The Russian Aviation and Space Agency has formally named the 23-year-old popster the prospective third crew member for an October Soyuz flight to the International Space Station, according to a letter sent to NASA and other nation-partners.
If all goes as planned, Bass would join professional cosmonauts Sergei Zalyotin of Russia and Frank De Winne of Belgium on a 10-day trip to the space station--making Bass the youngest person (and first boy band member) to ever go into orbit.
"We have been told that the Russians have submitted the letter," confirms NASA spokesman Mike Braukus.
The news appears to put Bass one giant step closer to fulfilling his childhood dream of going into space--not to mention one production company's dreams of turning his experience into a TV special. (Beat that, Ozzy.)
However, there are still plenty of hoops to go through before Bass can officially pop into space: For one thing, the Russians' proposal must be reviewed and okayed by a board of international space partners. The group, known as the Multilateral Crew Operations Panel, is meeting to discuss the issue this week in Quebec.
Bass has not yet signed any contracts with the Russians, but there's talk that a deal could be finalized as early as today. The popster's camp would need to cough up a reported $20 million for his seat on the flight, but negotiations were said to be moving along smoothly.
The ultimate hope is to turn Bass' experience into a TV special, tentatively titled Celebrity Mission: Lance Bass, and use corporate sponsors to foot the bill for Bass' rocket ride. Los Angeles-based Destiny Productions did not immediately return a call for comment, but the company is reportedly working to secure a deal with a network and sponsors.
Perhaps most challenging of all is that Bass also must complete his four-month crash-course training program in Star City, Russia. To prepare for the flight, Bass will be dropped into the Black Sea (in case his space capsule lands in water) and left in the Russian forest without food or supplies. While there, he'll also have to fend off wolves and build his own shelter. Then there's the task of learning to speak Russian and finishing courses in space-flight theory and flight control.
Making matters more difficult: This kind of training usually take six months to complete. So the guy's got his hands full.