Queer Cork-born photographer to make history as first Irish person in space

Rhiannon Adam said she was honoured to not only make history for Ireland, but also to be visible for the LGBTQ+ community.

Irish photographer Rhiannon Adam in an interview with dearMoon Project.
Image: YouTube: dearMoon

On Thursday, December 8, crew members for the first-ever civilian mission to the Moon were announced, with a Corkonian securing one of the highly coveted seats. Rhiannon Adam, an openly queer photographic artist, is set to make history as the first Irish person in space when she embarks on the week-long dearMoon mission next year.

The 37-year-old is one of eight people selected to join the expedition, with others including Grammy-nominated music producer Steve Aoki, K-pop star TOP, Indian TV actor Dev D Joshi, YouTuber Tim Dodd, creative Yemi AD, photographer Karim Iliya and filmmaker Brendan Hall. There are also two reserves, US Olympian Kaitlyn Farrington and Japanese dancer Miyu.

The recruits join Crew Leader Yusaku Maezawa (MZ) on the SpaceX rocket, with the Japanese entrepreneur spearheading the dearMoon Project. In 2018, he bought all of the seats onboard the vehicle, and in March 2021, he announced his plans to choose eight talented individuals from across the world to join him on the voyage.

There was reportedly a strict screening process for the million applicants, including medical checks and multiple interviews. Maezawa revealed he “had deep conversations with each candidate, asking them about their childhood, why they are dreaming about going to space, what kind of challenges they would like to undertake,” and more.

“They will gain a lot from this experience, and I hope they will use that to contribute to the planet, to humanity,” he said.

Rhiannon revealed that she applied for the position in the middle of the pandemic as she was “craving an adventure, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity”.

Although they now live and work between London and the US, Rhiannon will make history for the Emerald Isle as a result of their trip. “I was born in Ireland, which will make me the first Irish person in space, which of course, is an incredible honour.”

In an Instagram post, they also explained the significance for them as an openly queer person.

“This feels particularly meaningful – visibility truly matters. Around the world there are many countries where my existence is still illegal, and I feel immensely privileged to be able to take up space, literally, and metaphorically.

“Few queer people have ever made it to space. The iconic Sally Ride only ‘came out’ in her own obituary, when it was revealed that she was survived by her partner of 27 years. Since then, we can count on one hand the number of openly queer people who have ventured into space, and I never would have imagined in a month of Sundays that I would be amongst them,” she added.

While SpaceX is yet to carry out the necessary initial test flights of the aircraft, should they be successful, the dearMoon crew will take off in 2023 for a six-day roundtrip, making them the first group of private civilians to venture beyond low-Earth orbit.

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