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    HomeScience90-Year-Old Ed Dwight Breaks Record as Oldest Person in Space

    90-Year-Old Ed Dwight Breaks Record as Oldest Person in Space

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    Six decades after nearly becoming America’s first Black astronaut, Ed Dwight has soared into the record books as the oldest person to reach space, surpassing the previous record held by “Star Trek” actor William Shatner by just a few months.

    Dwight’s long-awaited journey aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket last Sunday marked a historic moment for space travel and an extraordinary personal triumph.

    The mission was a resumption of Blue Origin’s crewed flights, the first in almost two years, following a grounding period due to a 2022 accident.

    This flight, which took off from West Texas, lasted approximately 10 minutes and saw Dwight and five crewmates briefly experience weightlessness beyond the Kármán line—the demarcation 330,000 feet above Earth’s surface that signifies the boundary of space.

    Despite one of the three parachutes not fully deploying, the crew capsule safely landed, bringing the team back to Earth, their mission accomplished.

    Ed Dwight’s space odyssey is more than just a personal milestone; it’s a poignant chapter in the annals of space and civil rights history.

    Neil A. Armstrong – Astronaut Edwin Eugene ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, Jr. on Moon (1969)” by luvi is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    In the early 1960s, Dwight, an Air Force captain, was poised to break the color barrier in space travel when then-President John F. Kennedy championed his candidacy.

    Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins Ready For Countdown Demonstration Test” by NASA Goddard Photo and Video is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Sadly, he was not selected for NASA’s 1963 class, which included future luminaries like Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.

    Dwight’s exclusion from the astronaut corps didn’t deter him from reaching for the stars in other ways. After leaving the Air Force in 1966, he carved out a successful career as a sculptor, with a focus on commemorating African American history through art.

    His notable works include memorials and public monuments across the United States, with some of his sculptures even making the journey to space.

    A life-changing journey is how Dwight described the experience. “Everyone needs to do this! I didn’t know I needed this in my life, but now I need it in my life,” he remarked after the flight.

    The sight of the Earth’s curvature from 347,000 feet was a revelation; as he put it, “It was like somebody pulled the curtains down over the windows.”

    #TBT: STS-8 Lands at Edwards Air Force Base – Sept. 5, 1983” by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    The significance of this flight is further underscored by the fact that NASA didn’t select its first Black astronaut until 1978, when Guion Bluford joined the ranks, flying to space in 1983.

    Blue Origin, the commercial space venture led by billionaire Jeff Bezos, has now flown space tourists seven times. Dwight’s seat on this historical flight was sponsored by the Jaison and Jamie Robinson Family Foundation and Space for Humanity, a nonprofit aimed at democratizing space travel.

    Upon emerging from the capsule with fists triumphantly raised, Dwight expressed a newfound eagerness to explore further: “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.”

    Relevant articles:
    At age 90, America’s first Black astronaut candidate has finally made it to space, opb.org
    Ed Dwight, America’s first Black astronaut candidate, finally goes to space 60 years later, cpr.org
    Ed Dwight, America’s first Black astronaut candidate, finally goes to space 60 years later, AP News
    Ed Dwight, 90, America’s first black astronaut candidate, finally goes to space 60 years later, New York Post

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