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N'Sync Singer Grounded by Russian Space Agency - 2002-09-03

Russian space officials say a U.S. pop singer and global teen idol will not join a scheduled October space mission that would have made him the third tourist in space. Some U.S. supporters of the trip are still holding out hope he will blast-off.

Russian space agency officials say Lance Bass of the musical group 'N Sync has been grounded because he has not come up with the reported $20 million.

Spokesman Sergei Gorbunov told reporters in Moscow Mr. Bass' space dream is "over" because of what he called "crude violations" of his contract.

Addressing reporters Tuesday in Moscow, Mr. Gorbunov said the clock had run out on the mission.

He said officials at the Russian space agency were very patient, taking into consideration all the difficulties from the American side. But he said they could not wait forever.

But representatives of the 23-year-old singer say paperwork problems have caused the delay in transferring the money, and they hope the trip can be saved. They say talks are in progress.

Mr. Bass has been training at Russia's Star City Space Center, and has just returned there from a week of training at the U.S. space center in Houston, Texas.

Mr. Bass was to ride a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station in late October.

But the Russian spokesman's only other comment on the matter does not bode well for Mr. Bass. Mr. Gorbunov says a decision has been made to have a container go in the singer's place. Unlike Mr. Bass, he said, the container is ready to go.