Ed Dwight, NASA’s 1st Black astronaut candidate, finally set to go to space on Blue Origin

Ed Dwight, NASA’s 1st Black astronaut candidate, finally set to go to space on Blue Origin
Ed Dwight, NASA’s 1st Black astronaut candidate, finally set to go to space on Blue Origin

Blue Origin is set to launch New Shepard NS-25, its seventh human flight, to space Sunday carrying 90-year-old Ed Dwight, the US’s first Black astronaut candidate.

This will be Dwight’s first flight to space — making him the oldest person to make the journey.

President John F. Kennedy appointed Dwight in 1961 to the elite Aerospace Research Pilot School — the Air Force program from which NASA astronauts were chosen — but despite being recommended by the Air Force he was not chosen for the NASA astronaut corps, according to Blue Origin.

After entering private life in 1966, he spent a decade as an entrepreneur before later becoming a sculptor of historical Black figures.

Dwight’s seat on the flight is sponsored by the nonprofit Space for Humanity.

Charles Bolden, the first Black NASA administrator and an astronaut who flew on four missions himself, wished Dwight good luck on his flight late Saturday.

“You’ve waited a long time for this opportunity and all of us who stand on your shoulders could not be happier,” Bolden told ABC News, emphasizing the word “long.” “I know how much you have dreamed about this and I want you to take some time while you are flying to suck it all up and take it all in. You deserve every moment of this. You’ve been a role model and mentor for many of us for so long and we’re with you there in spirit.”

The launch window opens at 8:30 am central time from west Texas.

Dwight will be joined by Mason Angel, the founder of venture capital fund Industrious Ventures; Sylvain Chiron, the founder of Brasserie Mont Blanc; Kenneth Hess, a software engineer and entrepreneur; Carol Schaller, a retired accountant; and Gopi Thotakura, an aviator and founder of Preserve Life Corp.

Actor William Shatner was previously the oldest to fly to space. He was 90 years and 206 days old when he flew on a previous Blue Origin flight on Oct. 13, 2021. Dwight will be 90 years and 253 days old on Sunday.

John Glenn, at 77, remains the oldest person to actually launch into orbit. Blue Origin travels just above the Karman Line, about 62 miles above Earth and NASA’s definition of space, while Glenn went 100 miles higher on the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1998.

ABC News’ Gina Sunseri contributed to this report.

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