The Out Astronaut Project has partnered with the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP) to send the first LGBTQ astronaut into space.

As of June 2018, a total of 561 people have been to space, and none have ever openly identified as a member of the LGBTQ community, according to Out Astronaut.

The joint initiative hopes to train one winning candidate to become the first LGBTQ-identified person to conduct research in space. The project is sponsored by a grant from the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences (IIAS) and PoSSUM, (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere), a non-profit research group that focuses on upper-atmospheric bioastronautics.

“The LGBTQ community lacks visible representation in the STEM professions; according to a recent poll conducted by ‘Pride in STEM’, more than 40 percent of LGBTQ people in STEM are not out and LGBTQ students are less likely to follow an academic career,” Out Astronaut says in a press release.

“As a result, there are fewer out LGBTQ STEM professionals serving as role models to LGBTQ youth.”

The deadline to apply for the competition is July 15, 2019. The selection of the winning candidate will be based on several merits, including: “Expertise in science, space, inclusivity, and LGBTQ equality.”

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