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First Black astronaut candidate finally reaches space at age 90

 NS-25 astronauts during training at Launch Site One. (May 18, 2024)
The NS-25 astronauts during training at Launch Site One. Blue Origin

Ed Dwight, was selected for NASA training in 1961, but the first Black astronaut candidate for the U.S. never got the chance to travel to space — until now. Today, May 19, Dwight reached the edge of space as part of the 25th flight for the Blue Origin company — more than 60 years after he was first selected. At 90 years old, Dwight is the oldest person to travel to space.

The NS-25 mission lifted off this morning from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One in West Texas with a total of six crew members including Dwight. They traveled on a short trip just past the edge of space, called the Kármán line, which is 100 kilometers (around 62 miles) from the average sea level of the Earth.

“I thought I really didn’t need this in my life ,but now I need this in my life. This is fabulous … I am ecstatic,” said Dwight when he landed. He described himself as “overwhelmed” by the experience.

The launch, flight, and interviews with the crew are available to watch below:

Replay: New Shepard Mission NS-25 Webcast

Dwight was an Air Force test pilot, and he completed astronaut training in 1963, but was not among those selected by NASA for a mission to space. Since leaving the Air Force in 1966, he has worked as an entrepreneur and then became a sculptor. He worked particularly with metals to create sculptures reflecting major figures in Black history, including series of works focused on Black icons of jazz, sports, and civil rights.

He was selected to be a part of the Blue Origin mission with a sponsorship from Space for Humanity, a nonprofit dedicated to sending a diverse range of people to space as citizen astronauts.

“Everybody needs to do this,” Dwight said upon landing, referring to the experience of going to space and seeing Earth from above.

“A big thank you to our astronaut customers for the opportunity to provide this life-changing experience,” said Phil Joyce of Blue Origin. “Each of you are pioneers helping to advance our mission to build a road to space for the benefit of Earth.”

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