A cosmonaut was stranded in area. Now pop star Lance Bass tells the story.


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When a Russian spaceship docked as a lifeboat for 3 stranded males on the Worldwide House Station in February, one might have puzzled if Sergei Krikalev, heading the rescue mission, felt any deja vu.

If that identify would not ring a bell, he is additionally generally generally known as “the final Soviet(Opens in a brand new tab)” for his greater than 311 days spent in area because the Soviet Union collapsed 250 miles beneath him in 1991. He was solely meant to be on the Mir station for 5 months. As an alternative, he remained for near a 12 months, by no means abandoning the outpost.

At the moment, Krikalev, the previous cosmonaut, is the chief director of human spaceflight for the Russian area company. Which means it is on his watch to ensure NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin get again house safely after their ship sprang a leak on the station in December 2022. The three marooned crew members had been speculated to return this month. However their mission will now stretch for a 12 months, till a brand new crew arrives to alleviate them on a separate spacecraft in six months.

Krikalev’s story of being stranded in area is now getting a maybe overdue highlight with a brand new podcast collection known as “The Final Soviet.” And it is being advised by one other cosmonaut, Lance Bass.


Russia has had 2 leaky area station ships in 2 months. Coincidence?

If that identify would not ring a bell, he is additionally generally generally known as the opposite blond heartthrob in NSYNC. That is proper: the Lance Bass, who sang “Tearin’ up my coronary heart” with JT, who had a cameo in Zoolander, a satire on the very severe ambitions of gorgeous individuals.

Bass, now 43, might sound an unlikely bard for a podcast concerning the fall of the Iron Curtain and an area mission gone awry that left Krikalev and not using a nation. Few might keep in mind that boy-band member Bass nearly made it to area on a Soyuz spacecraft himself. In 2002, he spent about six months, on and off, coaching in Star Metropolis, Russia, and was licensed by Russia and NASA(Opens in a brand new tab) to fly a mission to the area station. On the final second, Bass misplaced his seat aboard the ship when his Hollywood financiers didn’t pony up $20 million to pay for the journey.

In a latest interview with Mashable, Bass stated he realized about Krikalev’s story whereas coaching on a Russian army base for his personal mission. From then on, he thought of the cosmonaut a private hero.

Lance Bass training for space travel

Lance Bass, a former band member of NSYNC, educated for area journey in 2002.
Credit score: AFP through Getty Photos

“I heard it from different individuals, my professors, after class,” Bass stated. “We’d at all times type of bond, and that is the place you’ll generally go into the sauna and drink vodka and beat one another with branches, and they might very brilliantly inform their tales of their historical past.”

“The humorous factor is,” he continued, “I do not know if I’ve met him or not.”

The podcast, an iHeartPodcasts manufacturing(Opens in a brand new tab) with Kaleidoscope and Samizdat Audio, comes at a poignant time, with the previous serving as prologue. The Russia-Ukraine Battle resurfaces tensions from the Chilly Battle, and, but once more, a crew will spend an unplanned 12 months in area, though this time not for geopolitical causes. Regardless of the battle and strained relations with the US, the 2 nations’ area companies have continued to work collaboratively on the area station.

Soyuz spacecraft leaking coolant into space

A Russian spacecraft spewed coolant into area in December 2022. A second Russian cargo ship sprung a leak two months later.
Credit score: NASA screenshot

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“You’d generally go into the sauna and drink vodka and beat one another with branches, and they might very brilliantly inform their tales of their historical past.”

Nonetheless, that international hostility has made bringing Krikalev’s story to listeners difficult, Bass stated.

“Sadly, due to the battle, Russia isn’t permitting him to talk, particularly to American podcasters,” he stated. “However we did get his family and friends and colleagues, and we actually get the story of him by way of their eyes.”

Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev working in space

Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev spent over 311 days in area whereas the Soviet Union fell in 1991.
Credit score: NASA / Newsmakers through Getty Photos

It is not clear if Krikalev was prevented from taking part. He just lately joined a NASA information convention and obliged questions from U.S. reporters on the standing of the leaky Soyuz spacecraft. He spoke of working “along with our NASA colleagues” to attenuate security dangers. Roscosmos, nevertheless, didn’t return a request for remark from Mashable relating to the podcast.

The collection, which debuted Feb. 15(Opens in a brand new tab), weaves in Bass’ personal experiences with the Russian area program, an uncommon story in its personal proper. The previous pop star was simply 23 when he pursued a suggestion to fly aboard a Soyuz spacecraft on a 10-day mission. House tourism is all abuzz right now, however twenty years in the past when Bass equipped for the journey, solely two billionaires had traveled earlier than him in privately paid seats. Had it gone to plan, he may need develop into the youngest spacefarer, onboard the area station simply three months earlier than the lethal House Shuttle Columbia catastrophe.

On the time, NSYNC was on the final leg of its ultimate tour, Justin Timberlake needed to pursue a solo album, and Bass was determining his subsequent profession strikes. Except for the singer’s childhood love of area, the thought of turning into a cosmonaut appeared so random to Bass.

Lance Bass smiling at Ashton Kutcher

Lance Bass, proper, thought he was getting “punked” by fellow celeb Ashton Kutcher in 2002 when he was supplied a seat on a spacecraft.
Credit score: Ethan Miller through Getty Photos

“I believed it was a joke at first as a result of it simply sounds foolish to even say,” he stated. “I actually did suppose Ashton Kutcher was ‘punking’ me as a result of that was such an enormous present.”

Quickly he discovered himself in a U.S. hospital present process a surgical process to appropriate an irregular heartbeat that might have in any other case prevented him from area flight. Then, he was on a aircraft to a Russian army base, immersed in a brand new language, and cramming astrophysics classes.

There have been parabolic flights and rides on a centrifuge, just like the Gravitron at an amusement park, to simulate the consequences of weightlessness in area. Even tenting journeys to check his wilderness survival instincts.

The preparations ended unceremoniously, two weeks earlier than his rocket launch. With out the fee, Roscosmos gave his seat to a different cosmonaut.

Replacement Soyuz spacecraft approaching International Space Station

A substitute Soyuz spacecraft docked on the Worldwide House Station on Feb. 25.
Credit score: NASA

Now, with so many alternatives for personal residents to fly to area with Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, and SpaceX, Bass is occupied with ending what he began. It was the podcast that rekindled his fireplace, he advised Mashable. He hopes it’s going to have the identical impact on his listeners, claiming a brand new viewers enthusiastic about area.

In the meantime, as others ponder Krikalev’s area legacy, he is not carried out composing it. The just lately broken Soyuz spacecraft(Opens in a brand new tab) will return empty to Earth later this month so Roscosmos can carry out a post-flight investigation.

Each the Russian area program and NASA decided in January it was unsafe to carry the crew again. They’ll oversee the lads’s return house later this 12 months on the spacecraft despatched to interchange it.

“We all know that state of affairs isn’t superb,” Krikalev stated then, “but it surely’s not a state of affairs with deadend the place we haven’t any answer.”


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