60 Years Later, Ed Dwight, First African American Astronaut, Launches into Space

Ed Dwight, who became the United States’ first black candidate for space travel 60 years ago, has finally taken flight.

Mr. Dwight was a US Air Force pilot when then-President John F. Kennedy endorsed him as a candidate for NASA’s early astronaut corps.

He was not selected for the 1963 class, which featured future Gemini and Apollo astronauts like Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.

NASA had not pick any black astronauts until 1978, when Guion Bluford became the first African American in space in 1983.

Three years previously, the Soviet Union launched the first black astronaut, Arnaldo Tamayo Mendez, a Cuban of African origin.

On Sunday, Mr. Dwight, aged 90, successfully entered space.

He experienced a few minutes of weightlessness with five other passengers aboard the Blue Origin spacecraft as it flew into space for about ten minutes.

He described it as “a life-changing experience”.

“I thought I really didn’t need this in my life,” Mr. Dwight stated after exiting the capsule.

“Now I need it in my life…” “I am ecstatic.

Mr. Dwight set a new record for the oldest person in space after a brief voyage from west Texas. He is over two months older than William Shatner, a Star Trek star who flew up in 2021.

In addition, it was Blue Origin’s first crewed launch in nearly two years.

The business was grounded after a 2022 mishap in which the booster crashed, but the capsule with experiments successfully parachuted to the earth. Flights resumed in December, but without anyone aboard.

It was Blue Origin’s seventh time flying space tourists.

Mr. Dwight, a sculptor from Denver, was joined by four business entrepreneurs from the United States and France, as well as a retired accountant.

Their ticket prices were not announced. Mr Dwight’s seat was partially sponsored by the non-profit organization Space for Humanity.

After leaving the service in 1966, Mr Dwight worked for IBM and founded a construction company before receiving a master’s degree in sculpture in the late 1970s.

He has subsequently devoted himself to art. His sculptures commemorate African American history and can be found in memorials and monuments around the United States. Several of his artworks have gone into space.

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