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Stars are aligning for photographer to become the first gay man in outer space

Maggie Baska April 6, 2021
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Jon Carmichael YouTube dearMoon application

(YouTube/Jon Carmichael)

An astronomy photographer could become the first openly gay man to travel to space as early as 2023.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced in 2018 that a host of private citizens would fly an around-the-moon mission as early as 2023. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has already been confirmed as part of the dearMoon project, and Maezawa said he will choose six to eight artists to share the experience with him.

Jon Carmichael, an astronomy photographer and sport pilot, applied for the opportunity to join Maezawa in the space flight. Carmichael has reportedly made it through the third step in the selection process for the dearMoon project. If he makes it all the way through, Carmichael will become the first openly gay man to go to space.

Carmichael wrote on Twitter that he made it “through step three” of the dearMoon project, beating out “nearly [1 million] applicants” for the journey of a lifetime. He wrote: “I have been thinking about this every single day for over two years.

“Dreams = Possible.”

Jon Carmichael garnered international renown for his photograph entitled “108” of the Great American Solar Eclipse of 2017. He took the photograph from a Southwest Airlines flight timed to be in the exact spot, at the precise time, to capture a full solar eclipse and the shadow on the ground below.

In his dearMoon submission on YouTube, Carmichael described how he has worked as a photographer for 14 years and said he loves how “humbling” astrophotography is. He explained: “It really changes your perspective, and it brings peace and curiosity.”

According to his website, Carmichael has worked with former president Barack Obama, Lady Gaga and the Dalai Lama. He’s also partnered with international brands Twitter, Dell and ESPN.

The dearMoon project isn’t the only outer space project that Carmichael is vying for. He is also applying to the Inspiration 4 program — the first all-civilian space mission which will be led by pilot Jared Isaacman, the founder and CEO of Shift4 Payments.

Jon Carmichael told The Washington Blade that it has been his “lifelong dream” to go to space, which seems “more realistic now”. He said: “It actually could happen.”

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