No, he's not being called back to the mothership. The enterprising 'N Sync member, having already formed his own production company (A Happy Place) his own management firm (Free Lance Entertainment) and starred in his own film (On the Line), is taking the next obvious step for a multiplatinum pop star: He's attempting to become the youngest person ever to travel into space.
Bass confirmed Wednesday he's in talks with Amsterdam-based space company MirCorp to take a Soyuz taxi mission from Russia to the International Space Station in November 2002.
"I am completely overwhelmed at the invitation," Bass said in a statement. "I'm looking forward to completing this lifelong dream. I am honored and privileged to represent my country in this history-making mission."
The 22-year-old popster--whose only experience is having attended Space Camp at age 12--will undergo five to six months of pre-flight training starting in May at a high-security base in Star City, Russia, outside of Moscow. His progress will be documented by L.A.-based Destiny Productions for a potential fall or midseason TV special called Celebrity Mission: Lance Bass.
While it may be surprising that Bass was first to jump at the opportunity (who were you expecting, Michael Jackson?), it was just a matter of time before Hollywood got involved in space travel. With trips costing an estimated $20 million a pop, MirCorp has already helped arrange flights for two other private citizens: U.S. millionaire Dennis Tito, who flew to the space station last year, and South African Mark Shuttleworth, who's due to take off this spring.
MirCorp also previously teamed up with NBC and Survivor producer Mark Burnett to create Destination Mir, a Survivor-style show in which contestants were to compete for a trip to the Russian space station Mir. There was, however, one teensy problem: Russia decided to bring down the rickety, 14-year-old Mir last year.
Destiny Productions, meanwhile, has produced a similar space-camp show in Denmark called The Big Mission. Destiny president David Krieff says the company aims to bring the series to the U.S., starting with the Lance Bass special followed by a series featuring regular contestants.
"Apparently, Lance was just in love with going into space. He went to space camp, we talked, and the guy is totally passionate," Krieff tells E! Online. He adds that the company is currently in talks with several networks and sponsors. And logistically, he says, "It's really just a matter of money."
Interestingly enough, Wednesday's announcement falls on February 20, 2002--the 40th anniversary of John Glenn's first flight into space. (Of course, they could have also announced the news on January 31--the 41st anniversary of Ham the chimp's first trip into orbit. But we digress.)
If the trip requires five or six months of training at a high-security base, no telling what the rest of 'N Sync will be doing during that time.
Meantime, Bass and his Earth-bound comrades will be performing Sunday at the closing ceremonies for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.