Lance Bass begins NASA training -- The would-be cosmonaut and his fellow crew members train in Florida, even as Russian authorities still await his $20 million payment

By Gary Susman
Updated August 27, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

Lance Bass is back in the U.S.A., but this time, the boy-band singer is more interested in O-rings than O-Town. He’s in Houston for a week of training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center with his two fellow cosmonauts in anticipation of the Oct. 28 shuttle flight to the international space station. Bass’ follow-up to his training in Star City, Russia, continues, even though the Russians say they are still awaiting the $20 million fee from the TV production company that plans to film Bass’ flight for a reality series.

NASA insisted on the extra week of training for the three space travelers, the Associated Press reports. ”Space flight can be very unforgiving if there’s a mistake that’s made, and those are the kinds of things that we’ll make sure that all three crew members are trained for,” flight director John Curry told AP. ”Make sure that they know the hazards, what valves not to touch, dangers that you can do to your eyes if you’re looking out the window.”

At 23, the ‘N Sync singer will be the youngest person ever in space — if he coughs up the money. Bass’ backers have missed several deadlines the Russians have set for the $20 million payment, most recently on Friday. ”We are in constant talks with the American side, but our patience isn’t limitless,” Russian space agency spokesman Konstantin Kreidenko told the New York Daily News on Monday. ”Except for their promises, we’ve received nothing from them. Nothing at all.” Producer David Krieff insists to the Daily News that the money is on its way, and that the deal is ”100 percent going forward.”

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