Astronaut Ed Dwight finally reaches space … 63 years after he should have

by | May 21, 2024 | Blue Origin, Commercial human spaceflight, Launches, NASA, Seradata News, Suborbital

On a recent suborbital Blue Origin flight, six more people gained the credentials to call themselves astronauts (or, more accurately, space travellers). However, the moment was of especial importance for one passenger, who had waited 63 years to reach space. Ed Dwight was originally selected as an astronaut candidate in 1961 – the first Black candidate. He finally reached his destination aged 90.


The launch

The suborbital flight of the reusable Blue Origin New Shepard Mk 2 rocket took off from Van Horn, Texas, US at 1435 GMT on 19 May. Despite a short flight time, at just 9 minutes 44 seconds, the rocket breeched space, as demarcated by the Kármán line at 100 km. The autonomous spacecraft travelled to an apogee of 107 km. The booster successfully returned to its landing pad, as did the crew capsule, although only two of the three main landing parachutes deployed, causing a slightly harder landing.

Ed Dwight in his USAF Captain’s uniform. Courtesy: Wikipedia/USAF


Why did Dwight have to wait so long?


In a possible racist injustice, NASA failed to select US Air Force Captain Ed Dwight, a person of colour with a degree in aeronautical engineering, for the class entry of 1963. The decision was particularly dubious given Dwight’s senior ranking in the Air Force and lobbying on his behalf by then US President John F. Kennedy and his brother Bobby Kennedy. It has since been alleged that US Air Force officers and even some managers within NASA deliberately stood in the way of Dwight’s selection.


Comment by David Todd: Our congratulations go to Ed Dwight who has finally made it into space and who, at 90, has become the oldest space traveller, beating the previous record held by the actor William Shatner who played ‘Captain Kirk’ in Star Trek.Space for Humanity sponsored the cost of Dwight’s Blue Origin ride and so we give them our salute as well. Denying somebody an opportunity just because of their race, religion or gender should never be allowed. This flight made some small amends for a past injustice.

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