The space flight ambitions of 'N Sync's Lance Bass were given a boost Friday by electronics manufacturer Radio Shack, whose funds allowed the pop star to begin medical screening at Star City, Russia's

The space flight ambitions of 'N Sync's Lance Bass were given a boost Friday by electronics manufacturer Radio Shack, whose funds allowed the pop star to begin medical screening at Star City, Russia's Institute for Bio-Medical Problems. The tests will determine whether Bass has the physical capabilities to journey to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket.

Further examinations would be required, as would approval from the Russian space agency, which told Interfax news agency today (March 25) that it has not yet received an official application from Bass.

If Bass, 22, passes the screening, he will enter six months of cosmonaut training before boarding the rocket in Kazakhstan Oct. 22 for a 10-day journey to the ISS. As previously reported, the entire process is being filmed by sponsor Destiny Productions (in association with the William Morris Agency) for a planned television special, dubbed "Celebrity Mission: Lance Bass." Radio Shack and other corporate sponsors are financially supporting the endeavor.

Jim McDonald, Radio Shack senior VP of marketing and advertising, said in a statement that the company's sponsorship of Bass is a logical extension of its space-related advertising program. Last year, the company filmed the first ISS-based television advertisement, which showed station commander Yuri Usachev receiving a Father's Day gift of a "talking picture frame" from his daughter, brought to the ISS via a Soyuz rocket.

Last year, Dennis Tito became the first space tourist, blasting off on an eight-day trip to the 16-nation international space station for which he reportedly paid the Russian space agency $20 million. The next tourist to go into space will be South African Internet tycoon Mark Shuttleworth, who is scheduled to fly to the space station in April. Russian officials have not released the contract sum, but Shuttleworth said he would pay roughly the same amount as Tito plus some extra for conducting scientific experiments.

Bass performs with 'N Sync tonight in Denver in the midst of the group's spring tour. He plans to finish out the current run of dates -- which close April 18 at Philadelphia's First Union Center -- before his six-month training window would begin.



-- Troy Carpenter, N.Y. & AP



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