Ed Dwight, 90, America’s first black astronaut candidate, finally goes to space 60 years later

VAN HORN, Texas — Ed Dwight, America’s first black astronaut candidate, flew with Jeff Bezos’ rocket company on Sunday, finally launching into space after 60 years.

Dwight was an Air Force pilot when President John F. Kennedy endorsed him as a candidate for NASA’s initial astronaut corps. However, he was not selected for the class of 1963.

Dwight, now 90, experienced several minutes of weightlessness along with five other passengers aboard the Blue Origin capsule as it skimmed through space during the 10-minute flight. He called it a “life-changing experience.”

Ed Dwight, America’s first black astronaut candidate, finally reached space in a Blue Origin capsule at the age of 90. Blue Origin/AFP (via Getty Images)
Dwight celebrates by landing at the Blue Origin base near Van Horn, Texas, after his space trip on May 19, 2024. Blue Origin/AFP (via Getty Images)

Immediately after coming out of the capsule, Dwight said, “I thought, “I don’t really need this in my life.” “But I need it in my life right now…I’m so excited.”

The short flight from West Texas made Dwight the new record holder for the oldest person in space. That makes him nearly two months older than “Star Trek” actor William Shatner when he went into space in 2021.

This was Blue Origin’s first crew launch in nearly two years.

Dwight was considered as a candidate for NASA’s astronaut class of 1963, but was ultimately not selected. Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
Dwight and other crew members including (from left to right) Sylvain Chiron, Ken Hess, Gopi Sotakula, Mason Angell, and Carol Schaller. Blue Origin/AFP (via Getty Images)

The company was shut down following a booster crash in 2022, but the capsule full of experiments was safely parachuted to the ground. Flights resumed in December last year, but there were no passengers.

This will be Blue Origin’s seventh spaceflight flight.

Dwight, a sculptor from Denver, was joined by four entrepreneurs and a former accountant from the United States and France.

Dwight called the trip a “life-changing experience.” Blue Origin/AFP (via Getty Images)

Their ticket prices have not been disclosed. Dwight’s seat was sponsored in part by the nonprofit Space for Humanity.

Dwight was one of the potential astronauts recommended to NASA by the Air Force. However, he was not selected for the 1963 class, which ultimately included Gemini and Apollo astronauts, including Apollo 11’s Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.

Although NASA did not select a black astronaut until 1978, Guion Bruford became the first African American to go into space in 1983.

Three years earlier, the Soviet Union launched its first black astronaut, Afro-Cuban Arnaldo Tamayo Mendez.