By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated July 22, 2002 12:00 PM

In the latest chapter of the Lance Bass-in-space saga, Russia is saying “da,” while NASA is saying “nyet” so fast. Reuters reports that the ‘N Sync singer’s request to blast off to the International Space Station this fall has been met with skepticism by America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which is a partner with the Russian Aviation and Space Agency in the project. Bass, 23, has made it clear in several press announcements that he’s eager to join a mission (following in the weightless footsteps of space travelers Dennis Tito, a U.S. millionaire, and Mark Shuttleworth, a South African Internet entrepreneur, who each reportedly paid $20 million for their trips). But NASA said Friday that questions still remain as to the pop star’s education, work experience and plans for activities while in orbit. A NASA spokesman also mentioned to Reuters that Bass’s fluency in Russian, or lack thereof, could be a factor. Still, the Russians could use the money from Bass’s ticket, RASA rep M.V. Sinelschikov openly admitted in a July 12 letter made available to Reuters. “We recognize this nomination is late with reference to the . . . crew selection guidelines,” the letter states. “However, extenuating circumstances regarding funding forces us to come up with this late nomination.” Watch for further developments.