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First black astronaut candidate, now 90, reaches space on Blue Origin flight | Blue origin

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Ed Dwight, a former Air Force captain, abandoned by NASA in 1961, is now the oldest person to reach the edge of space within Jeff Bezo’s space company.

Sun May 19, 2024 2:02 p.m. EDT

Sixty-one years after he was selected but ultimately passed over to become the first black astronaut, Ed Dwight finally reached space aboard a Blue Origin rocket — and set a different record.

At 10:37 a.m. Sunday, Jeff Bezos’ space company launched its NS-25 mission from West Texas, marking Blue Origin’s first crewed spaceflight since 2022, when its New Shepard rocket was grounded in due to a breakdown during the flight.

On board were six crew members, including Dwight, a retired United States Air Force captain who, at age 90, now becomes the oldest person to reach the edge of space.

In 1961, Dwight was selected by President John F. Kennedy to train as an astronaut at the Aerospace Research Pilot School, but was ultimately not selected for the NASA Astronaut Corps.

Since entering private life in 1966, Dwight spent a decade as an entrepreneur, before turning to sculpture to honor black history, Blue Origin said on its website. Dwight has created large-scale monuments depicting various major black figures, including Martin Luther King Jr, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman, and has installed more than 130 of his public works in museums and public spaces across the United States and Canada .

“I had no intention of becoming an astronaut. It was the last thing on my bucket list,” Dwight said in a 2023 National Geographic documentary, The Space Race. “But once the challenge is launched, everything changes.”

Dwight’s headquarters was sponsored by Space for Humanity, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding access to space.

Dwight becomes the oldest person to fly to the edge of space, surpassing the record set by actor William Shatner who completed another Blue Origin flight in October 2021.

Blue Origin flights cross the Karman Line, 62 miles above sea level, an internationally accepted spatial boundary.

The late John Glenn, a former astronaut and senator from Ohio, still holds the record for the oldest person to enter Earth’s orbit. In 1998, Glenn was sent into space at the age of 77 via the space shuttle Discovery.

After the pod landed, Dwight walked out of the pod, raised his fist in the air, and said, “I thought I really didn’t need this in my life, but now I do.” need in my life. I am delighted… It was a life-changing experience. Everyone has to do this.

Other crew members include venture capitalist Mason Angel, craft brewery founder Sylvain Chiron, software engineer Kenneth Hess, retired CPA Carol Schaller and pilot Gopi Thotakura.

In recent years, space tourism, largely led by billionaires including Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson, has grown rapidly.

Last August, spaceflight company Virgin Galactic, founded by Branson, successfully carried six tourists, including the first mother-daughter duo, on a suborbital flight allowing passengers to view the curvature of the Earth.

Meanwhile, in 2021, Musk’s SpaceX launched the world’s first crew of “amateur astronauts” on a private flight to orbit Earth for three days, a journey that mission commander Jared Isaacman described as a “hell trip” after landing.

News Source : amp.theguardian.com
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