June 10, 2002 01:00 PM

Lance Bass may be champing at the bit to blast off into space, but if the new commander of the International Space Station had his way, the 23-year-old ‘N Sync member wouldn’t be on board at all. But a 36-year-old supermodel would be. “Well, how about Cindy Crawford? We would love to see one of the supermodels,” joked Valery Korzun at a Cape Canaveral, Fla., news conference during the weekend, as reported by Reuters. He was kidding, the news service was quick to point out. Or was he? The subject arose because Bass reportedly has been negotiating with Russian authorities for a $20 million ride on a Soyuz spacecraft when it docks with the space station in October. Korzun, however, opined that it might be more advantageous in the long run to have tourists such as South African Mark Shuttleworth, who brought his computer expertise along for the ride last year. (American millionaire Dennis Tito also paid the $20 million fare to fly the Soyuz in 2001.) But if Bass does make the journey, Korzun said, he would be greeted with open arms. “We would be happy to see any space tourist. They’re very welcome here,” he said. Speaking at a press conference in Moscow on May 31, PEOPLE.com reported, Bass insisted that Russian doctors have given him preliminary approval to board a Russian rocket in October as the first pop star and the youngest person ever to play astronaut. “I’m pretty confident we will be able to pull this off. I know physically I can do this,” he said, adding with his fingers crossed, “We’ll have a deal in place within two weeks.” That deal has yet to be confirmed.

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