The 24-year-old George Mason University graduate student, who studies the irradiation chemistry of planetary ices, has been wandering the District dressed like an astronaut.
Why are you dressed like an astronaut?
There is a competition ... sponsored by [Space Expedition Corp.], which is a private aerospace company, and Axe, the deodorant company. If I'm in the top two [in the country] in terms of votes [on Facebook], they'll send me to Space Camp, and from Space Camp, I can move on to fly Space XC's miniature space shuttle.
Did you want to be an astronaut before the shuttle program was cut?
It's still kind of my dream. There's a lot of private companies, like Space XC, popping up now. ... Now that I have an opportunity to actually go to outer space, I'm going all out for it. ... I'm in first place in terms of nonfamous people. The other people in the top 10 are famous poets or famous YouTubers or famous bloggers.
Why do you want to go to space?
Space is an interesting place because we don't know much about it. It's really the last frontier. ... I've always, I guess, wanted to be an explorer and find new things.
What is one of the first things you will do in outer space?
A whole bunch of athletic-oriented things that I would never be able to do on Earth, like maybe break dancing or something like that.
Why do you deserve to win this?
The people in this competition right now basically heard of the competition ... and have a huge fan base, so they were able to get a lot of votes really quickly. ... There have been only 500 or so people up in outer space. ... The person who wins the competition should be someone who cared about space their entire life.
- Rachel Baye