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    A Historic Voyage: Ed Dwight, Trailblazer for Black Astronauts, Conquers Space at 90

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    VAN HORN, Texas witnessed a momentous event in space travel and racial history last Sunday, as Ed Dwight, the first African American astronaut candidate, defied both gravity and time by traveling to the threshold of space at the age of 90.

    His journey aboard Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space capsule not only catapulted him into the annals of space exploration but also set a new benchmark by making him the oldest person to reach space, surpassing the previous record held by “Star Trek” actor William Shatner.

    This flight, originating in West Texas, lasted about 10 minutes. Dwight and five crewmates briefly encountered weightlessness beyond the Kármán line, marking the boundary of space at 330,000 feet above Earth’s surface.

    Ed Dwight’s aspirations to traverse the cosmos were kindled back in the 1960s when President John F. Kennedy personally endorsed him for NASA’s astronaut corps.

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

    However, in an era marred by racial segregation and discrimination, Dwight was bypassed for the 1963 astronaut class, missing out on the opportunity to join the ranks of Gemini and Apollo legends like Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.

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

    #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

    Over 60 years later, Dwight’s unfulfilled dream achieved liftoff as he experienced weightlessness during the 10-minute suborbital flight.

    Emerging from the Blue Origin capsule, Dwight expressed his newfound ecstasy, saying, “I thought I really didn’t need this in my life, but, now, I need it in my life …. I am ecstatic.”

    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.”

    His sentiment captures the profound impact that the long-awaited spaceflight had on him, transforming it from an overlooked desire to an indispensable life experience.

    The flight signified not only a personal triumph for Dwight but also Blue Origin’s resumption of crewed launches after nearly two years. The hiatus followed a 2022 accident which thankfully resulted in no casualties, as the booster crashed while the capsule containing experiments safely parachuted back to Earth.

    Since then, the company cautiously resumed unmanned flights until this recent mission, marking the seventh time Blue Origin has flown space tourists.

    The capsule’s crew, a diverse ensemble of individuals including four business entrepreneurs from the United States and France, and a retired accountant, shared the historic moment with Dwight.

    His seat, partly sponsored by the nonprofit Space for Humanity, underscored the mission’s significance in advocating for inclusivity and diversity in space exploration.

    Following his Air Force tenure, Dwight cultivated a successful career in the arts, using his master’s degree in sculpture to create artworks that honor Black history. Some of his sculptures have even transcended Earth’s atmosphere, accompanying Dwight in his celestial journey.

    Relevant articles:
    Ed Dwight, America’s first Black astronaut candidate, finally goes to space 60 years later, abc7.com
    America’s first Black astronaut candidate goes to space 60 years later, airforcetimes.com
    Ed Dwight, America’s first Black astronaut candidate, becomes oldest person to reach space, NBC News
    Ed Dwight, America’s First Black Astronaut Candidate, Makes History by Finally Reaching Space at 90, People

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