1st Black astronaut candidate waits 60 years to break record as oldest space traveler at 90

Ed Dwight, America's first Black astronaut candidate, accomplished his long-awaited journey to space on Sunday after 60 years of waiting, according to Anadolu Agency. "We just completed our seventh human spaceflight and the 25th flight for the New Shepard program. Our NS25 astronaut crew included: Mason Angel, Sylvain Chiron, Ed Dwight, Ken Hess, Carol Schaller, and Gopi Thotakura," said Jeff Bezos’ rocket company Blue Origin on X.

During a brief 10-minute flight with Blue Origin, Dwight, 90, marked a historic moment in space travel with five other passengers, calling it "a life-changing experience."

"I thought I really didn’t need this in my life. But, now, I need it in my life, I am ecstatic," Dwight said after exiting the capsule.

Initially recommended to NASA by the Air Force during President John F. Kennedy's administration, Dwight was not selected for the 1963 astronaut class, which included only future Gemini and Apollo astronauts, such as Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.

Despite his qualifications, NASA did not select its first Black astronauts until 1978, and Guion Bluford became the first African American in space in 1983.

In 1980, the Soviet Union launched the first Black astronaut, Arnaldo Tamayo Mendez, a Cuban of African descent.

After leaving the military in 1966, Dwight pursued various careers, including a stint at IBM and founding a construction company before earning a master’s degree in sculpture in the late 1970s.

His sculptures, which focus on Black history, include several pieces that have been sent into space.

His spaceflight, partially funded by the nonprofit Space for Humanity, also set a new record, making Dwight the oldest person to travel to space, surpassing "Star Trek" actor William Shatner by nearly two months, who flew in 2021.

Blue Origin's launch marked the company's first crewed flight in nearly two years, following a 2022 accident in which the booster crashed but the capsule safely returned to the ground.

Sunday’s flight was the company’s seventh mission carrying space tourists, marking a significant milestone in space travel.

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