First Black Astronaut Candidate Becomes Oldest Person To Reach Space


Ed Dwight, a 90-year-old man set to become America's first Black astronaut decades ago, finally made it to space, NPR reports.

On Sunday (May 19), Dwight traveled to space on the New Shephard rocket through Blue Origin, a space exploration company founded by Jeff Bezos. Dwight made the roughly 10-minute trip to space alongside venture capitalist Mason Angel, Sylvain Chiron, the founder of a French craft brewery, entrepreneur Kenneth Hess, aviator Gopi Thotakura, and Carol Schaller, a retired accountant.

The 90-year-old beat out Star Trek actor William Shatner, who traveled on the New Shephard rocket in 2021, as the oldest person to ever reach space.

Dwight's historic feat comes after he was selected by former President John F. Kennedy in 1961 to enter the Path to NASA's Astronaut Corps, an Air Force training program.

Finishing the program in 1963, Dwight was set up to make history as the first Black astronaut.

"I thought these dudes were crazy," Dwight previously said of the opportunity.

The Air Force recommended Dwight join NASA's Astronaut Corps, but he ultimately wasn't selected and entered private life in 1966.

Dwight recalled feeling discriminated against by his peers.

"So, all these White folks that I'm dealing with, I mean, my peers, the other guys that were astronaut candidates, and the leadership was just horrified at the idea of my coming down to Edwards and the president appointing me to the position," Dwight said.

Now, more than 60 years later, Dwight said the feeling of being in space was "life-changing."

"Fantastic! A life-changing experience. Everyone needs to do this!" Dwight said as he exited the capsule with two fists in the air. "I didn't know I needed this in my life, but now I need it in my life."

Dwight told NPR he's "got bragging rights now" following the flight.

"All these years, I've been called an astronaut," Dwight said. "Now I have a little [astronaut] pin, which is ... a totally different matter."

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