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'Out Astronaut' contest accepting submissions until Jan. 31

Out Astronaut (Image credit: Out Astronaut Project)

The Out Astronaut Contest is now accepting submissions until Jan. 31. 

Out Astronaut is an annual competition hosted by the Out Astronaut Project in partnership with the nonprofit research and education organization Project PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere) "to encourage LGBTQ-identified individuals in the STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] fields to share their stories publicly and in doing so create visibility and representation," the contest's website reads. 

Project PoSSUM, which facilitates upper atmospheric and space technology research, will award the winner of the contest a full scholarship to attend the next Advanced PoSSUM Academy at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne. The scholarship will include housing and travel costs.

To apply for Out Astronaut, check out the contest website here

Related: Why aren't there any openly gay astronauts?

The competition consists of three phases and aims to select applicants who are both a part of the LGBTQ community and involved in STEM fields to "serve as role models to LGBTQ youth, and become representatives of their community as pioneers of astronautical science," according to the website. 

Applicants must meet a handful of additional requirements. They must be between 18 and 39 years old; be a resident of the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Central America; have earned a bachelor's degree or be currently enrolled in an accredited degree program; and be able to obtain a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration Class III Flight Physical (or equivalent), according to the website.

Previously, Out Astronaut chose its first winner: 2018 Brooke Owens Fellow Shannon Gatta, an informatics student at the University of Washington who identifies as pansexual.

"This is an incredible honor to be selected to be the first astronaut candidate under the Out Astronaut organization," Gatta said about winning in a statement. "Thanks to them, I'm able to serve openly and without apology as a queer woman while training for a research mission to space. I plan to show the world that identifying openly as LGBTQ+ should not be seen as a limitation to success, and crossing the frontiers of space will inspire the community to achieve authentically, and for the world to accept us as we are." 

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Chelsea Gohd

Chelsea Gohd joined as an intern in the summer of 2018 and returned as a Staff Writer in 2019. After receiving a B.S. in Public Health, she worked as a science communicator at the American Museum of Natural History and even wrote an installation for the museum's permanent Hall of Meteorites. Chelsea has written for publications including Scientific American, Discover Magazine Blog, Astronomy Magazine, Live Science, All That is Interesting, AMNH Microbe Mondays blog, The Daily Targum and Roaring Earth. When not writing, reading or following the latest space and science discoveries, Chelsea is writing music and performing as her alter ego Foxanne (@foxannemusic). You can follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd.