Ed Dwight, America’s First Black Astronaut Candidate, Finally Makes It to Space at Age 90


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Una publicación compartida por Blue Origin (@blueorigin)

In 1961, an Air Force pilot named Ed Dwight was chosen to be the first Black astronaut. Having graduated in the top half of his class, he even had the support of president John F. Kennedy, who aimed to diversify the country’s space program. Unfortunately, Dwight was passed over—a choice many attribute to racism and the politics of the time. Now, over 60 years later, Dwight's dream has come true. At 90 years of age, he has become the oldest person to ever travel to space.

Dwight flew aboard the Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket. Reaching more than 347,000 feet, he experienced a 10-minute suborbital flight, including some moments of weightlessness. The former Air Force pilot was part of Blue Origin's 25th mission and seventh human spaceflight. Having only reached up to 80,000 feet in test flights during his Air Force career, Dwight reached four times the altitude this time, allowing him to marvel at the curvature of the Earth.

After landing, Dwight emerged with his fists in the air and said, “Long time coming.” A few minutes later, he described the experience to the press as: “Fantastic! A life-changing experience. Everyone needs to do this!” He added, “I didn't know I needed this in my life, but now I need it in my life.”

While he has been considered an astronaut his whole life, he told NPR that he now has bragging rights. “All these years, I've been called an astronaut, but now I have a little [astronaut] pin, which is … a totally different matter.” The experience was so thrilling that it left him wanting more. “I want to go into orbit. I want to go around the Earth and see the whole Earth. That's what I want to do now,” he said.

Despite his past setbacks, Dwight did go on to have a successful career in other areas. After leaving the Air Force in 1966, he became a restaurateur and a real estate developer. He later became a celebrated sculptor whose works are inspired by prominent Black historical figures. As for the space program, the U.S. wouldn't send a Black astronaut to space until Lt. Col. Guion S. Bluford Jr. made the trip in 1983.

“Everything I’ve done has been an uphill battle: getting into the military and being an Air Force pilot, getting chosen by the president of the United States to be the first Black astronaut, and facing all kinds of obstacles in the years that I was in that program,” he told The New York Times about the meaning of his trip to space. “Then, after I left the Air Force, I came to Colorado and became a big-time businessman—and then started an art career at the age of 45. My whole life has been about getting things done. This is the culmination.”

At 90 years of age, former Air Force pilot Ed Dwight has become the oldest person to ever travel to space.


Ver esta publicación en Instagram


Una publicación compartida por Blue Origin (@blueorigin)

In 1961, Dwight was selected to become the first Black astronaut, but was passed over due to racism and the politics of the era.

Young Ed Dwight in Black and White portrait

Photo: IMS Vintage Photos via Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

Dwight flew aboard the Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket, allowing him to marvel at the curvature of the Earth.

Edward Dwight, sculptor and space pioneer, celebrates his induction into the U.S Space Force, Aug. 5, 2020

Photo: U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales via Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

h/t: [NPR]

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Regina Sienra

Regina Sienra is a Staff Writer at My Modern Met. Based in Mexico City, Mexico, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications with specialization in Journalism from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She has 10+ years’ experience in Digital Media, writing for outlets in both English and Spanish. Her love for the creative arts—especially music and film—drives her forward every day.
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