- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 4, 2002

MOSCOW (AP) Lance Bass, a member of the American boy band 'N Sync, was asked to leave Russia's cosmonaut training program because his sponsors didn't come up with the $20 million for a trip to the International Space Station, a Russian space official said yesterday.

Sergei Gorbunov, spokesman for the Russian Space Agency, said the Russians negotiated with Mr. Bass "in good faith," but that "his sponsors didn't fulfill the conditions of the contract, and we never received the money."

Mr. Bass, 23, who hoped to be the youngest person in space, had been granted deadline extensions after failing to get the money needed to secure his seat, Mr. Gorbunov said.

He said the decision to end negotiations was made after "crude violations" of the contract.

The singer could not immediately be reached. His Russian spokesman, Yuri Nikiforov of Atlas Aerospace, said there would be no comment yesterday. Mr. Bass' supporters have blamed paperwork problems for the delay.

Mr. Gorbunov said Mr. Bass, who had hoped to fly to the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket Oct. 28, would be leaving Russia's Star City within hours.

"It's over," Mr. Gorbunov said.

Mr. Bass began training in July at Star City and just returned to Russia on Sunday after spending a week at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston with the other two crew members.

Jeff Manber, president of MirCorp, which had been working on behalf of Mr. Bass, continued to express optimism yesterday that the mission would go ahead.

"It is a little dramatic to say he was kicked out," said Mr. Manber.

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