Meulen is one of 15 Founder Astronauts who have booked flights with Space Experience Curacao, which will begin suborbital tourism flights from his home island of Curacao in 2014. Muelen, who was born on the Caribbean island, will fly aboard an XCOR Lynx vehicle that is now under development in Mojave, Calif.
“Americans are crazy about space travel, but for Curacao this is also a great initiative. In terms of tourism, but also because of all the social and educational projects that will be set up on the island,” he said in a press release.
The Lynx is a small, two-seat space plane that will take off from a runway and rocket to higher than 100 kilometers (62.5 miles) above the Earth. The pilot and passenger will experience several minutes of weightlessness. The flights will cost $95,000 per seat.
Meulen, 43, was the first Major League Baseball player to come from the Dutch island. The right handed outfielder made his debut with the New York Yankees in 1989 and finished up his Major League career in 1998 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. In between, he had stints with the Montreal Expos and the Chiba Lotte Marines and the Yakult Swallows in Japan. Muelen had a lifetime batting average of .220 in the majors with 15 home runs and 53 runs batted in.
He quit playing baseball in 2002 after stints with a minor league team and clubs in South Korea and Mexico. Meulen began coaching with the Bluefield Orioles in 2003. Seven years later, he returned to the Major Leagues as hitting coach for the San Francisco Giants, helping the team to win the World Series.
Meulen joins an impressive list of Founder Astronauts that include:
- Doutzen Kroes, supermodel and Victoria’s Secret Angel.
- Armin van Buuren, who was elected Best DJ in the world last year, for the fourth time in a row. His radio show ‘A State Of Trance’ attracts around 30 million listeners each time it airs.
- Martin SchrÃ¶der, founder of Martinair.
- Erica Terpstra, a retired Dutch freestyle swimmer, sports journalist, state secretary and member of parliament.
As a Founder Astronaut, Meulen will become part of the program’s development process, which include invitations to test flights and training in weightlessness and G forces to prepare for the flights.
SXC co-founder Michiel Mol said, “We are extremely pleased with the impressive list of founder astronauts. It proves that this kind of travel is suitable for a very wide audience. For these people, a dream will soon become reality and I hope many others will follow.”