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Nation's First Black Astronaut Gets His Flight at 90

Ed Dwight's Blue Origin trip to space completes a 60-year quest
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2024 4:30 PM CDT
Nation's First Black Astronaut Gets His Flight at 90
Ed Dwight poses for a portrait in February.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

Ed Dwight's giant leap took 60 years. The first Black person to be trained as an astronaut, Dwight at last reached space on Sunday aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket. The delay helped make Dwight, who's a few months older than William Shatner was during his flight, the oldest person to ever fly to space, NPR reports. Dwight was an astronaut candidate in the early 1960s but was never picked by NASA for a mission, though he was championed by President Kennedy, per the AP. Dwight left the Air Force and the space program, becoming a respected sculptor creating likenesses of historic African American figures.

Six were aboard the suborbital, 10-minute flight Sunday after a perfect liftoff from a West Texas launch site. It crossed the 330,000-foot Kármán line, marking the boundary of space, and included a few moments of weightlessness. Dwight, euphoric, came out of the capsule after landing near the launch site shaking his fists in the air. "Fantastic! A life-changing experience," he said. "Everyone needs to do this!" His son, Chris, had called the flight "an absolutely fantastic bookend to the space era of his life," per the Wall Street Journal. "It's about time." (More space stories.)

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