After six decades, the nation’s inaugural black astronaut candidate ventures into space

Ed Dwight was named a candidate for NASA’s astronaut corps by President John F. Kennedy in 1963. On Sunday, he finally made it to space. 

Dwight, 90, traveled to space aboard a capsule with Blue Origin, the aerospace company owned by Jeff Bezos. The flight departed from West Texas and lasted about ten minutes, according to the Associated Press. He was one of six passengers to make the journey on Sunday.

“I thought I really didn’t need this in my life,” Dwight said after the flight.” But, now, I need it in my life …. I am ecstatic.”

He became the new record-holder for the oldest person ever to travel to space, multiple outlets reported. Dwight is about two months older than actor William Shatner, who previously set the record in 2021 during his space flight. 

Dwight enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1953 and eventually earned the rank of captain after several years of service. After not being selected as an astronaut, he stayed in the Air Force until 1966. He later worked as an engineer, real estate, and business owner before ultimately becoming a renowned sculptor. 

It wasn’t until 1978 that the first black astronaut was accepted into NASA. Five years later, in 1983, Guion Bluford became the first black astronaut to travel to space aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger

In 2020, Dwight was named an honorary member of the Space Force


The Blue Origin flight into space marks a comeback of sorts for Bezos’ company. It was the first flight into space with a crew in almost two years. Previously, Blue Origin grounded all its flights after an accident in 2022 in which engine trouble caused an unmanned capsule to come apart in the sky in mid-flight. 

Blue Origin’s commercial flight into space on Sunday was the company’s seventh journey with passengers. 

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