Ed Dwight: America’s first Black astronaut candidate will finally get his flight to space at 90

90-year-old Ed Dwight will at long last be able to fly into space. Jeff Bezos’s space venture company recently revealed that Dwight, the nation’s first black astronaut candidate, will be one of the six members of the crew on Blue Origin’s planned New Shepard trip beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

Blue Origin said in a statement, “[Dwight] was selected by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 as the nation’s first Black astronaut candidate but was never granted the opportunity to fly to space.” 

POCIT reported that Dwight’s inclusion in the six-person crew for the NS-25 mission offers him the opportunity to become the oldest person to accomplish this feat—beyond even Wally Funk’s record from her Blue Origin flight.

While the first seat’s ticket cost $28 million in 2021, Space for Humanity and the Jaison and Jamie Robinson Foundation will fund Dwight’s voyage.

Dwight joined the United States Air Force in 1953 and served as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force. In 1961, the 35th president selected the Kansas native to train under the U.S. Air Force training program that would later produce NASA’s first astronauts, known as the Mercury 7, according to history.

He had a bachelor’s degree in science or engineering, three consecutive “outstanding” evaluations from military superiors, and held a time of 1,500 hours of jet aviation flying at the time. But when he became one of 26 people recommended to NASA by the Air Force to become astronauts, the agency did not select him.

The first African American to travel to space was Guion Bluford, and he didn’t do it until 1983.

According to History Makers, Dwight eventually quit in 1966, without having gone into space, and went on to work as an engineer, in real estate, and for IBM.

In the mid-1970s, he became interested in art and enrolled at the University of Denver, where he learned how to operate the university’s metal casting foundry. He earned a Masters of Fine Arts degree in 1977 and became a popular sculptor.

Among his creations are the Black Patriots Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C.; the Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial in Denver’s City Park; the International Monuments to the Underground Railroad in Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario; and more.

Ed Dwight Studios in Denver became one of the largest privately held production and marketing facilities in the Western United States.

The date of the upcoming flight has yet to be announced. The other members of the Blue Origin six-person crew are Mason Angel, Sylvain Chiron, Kenneth L. Hess, Carol Schaller, and Gopi Thotakura.

Dollita Okine

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