Win the World Cup, Go to Space

One company is offering to make the whole Dutch team astronauts if they bring home soccer’s biggest prize.

National Journal
Alex Brown
July 8, 2014, 12:17 p.m.

The Neth­er­lands’ soc­cer stars are a pair of wins away from World Cup glory — and a free ride in space.

XCOR Aerospace, which days ago pur­chased the Hol­land-based com­pany Space Ex­ped­i­tion, said it’s pre­par­ing rides for the (hope­fully) vic­tori­ous Dutch­men in early 2016.

Michiel Mol, who foun­ded Space Ex­ped­i­tion, said the com­pany’s Lynx space­craft will take the ath­letes and their man­ager 64 miles above the Earth if they come away with the World Cup trophy.

The Lynx is set to start test flights after this sum­mer, with com­mer­cial launches be­gin­ning in mid-2015. It can carry two people at a time, so it will take at least a dozen flights to put the en­tire team in the sky (as­sum­ing all the play­ers are bold enough to try).

“100 per­cent; if Hol­land be­comes world cham­pi­on, these guys will be our guests,” Mol said. “Against such an un­earthly achieve­ment should stand an un­earthly re­ward.”

The Lynx flight is about the same el­ev­a­tion as Vir­gin Galactic’s Space­ShipT­wo, which barely breaks the ini­tial bound­ary of space and of­fers just a few minutes of weight­less­ness. Mogul Sir Richard Bran­son charges $250,000 for a seat on those flights.

The In­ter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion or­bits at about 230 miles above the Earth.

Most odds­makers and pre­dic­tion sites have the Dutch as un­der­dogs — least likely of the four re­main­ing teams to win — des­pite their stun­ning rout of Spain to open the tour­na­ment. It’s not known if those sites factored in the ad­ded mo­tiv­a­tion of a trip to space.

Here’s a video of some as­tro­nauts play­ing soc­cer:

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