First black man to train with NASA will finally make trip to space 60 years on aged 90 on


The first black man to train with NASA in the 1960s will finally travel to space aged 90 on the next Blue Origin rocket flight – making him the oldest astronaut on record.

Ed Dwight joined the U.S. Air Force in 1953 and quickly rose through the ranks to make captain. In 1962 he entered the Air Force’s Aerospace Research Pilot School to train to be an astronaut.

Yet despite making history as the first black astronaut to have a shot at making it to space after training during the civil rights movement, he ultimately missed out. 

But now thanks to Jeff Bezos‘ space company, Dwight will be among six people to board New Shepard on Sunday to take a long-awaited spaceflight, Wall Street Journal reported. 

Ed Dwight (pictured), the first Black man to train to be an astronaut in the 1960s, will finally be going to space on Blue Origin 's New Shepard vehicle at the age of 90

Ed Dwight (pictured), the first Black man to train to be an astronaut in the 1960s, will finally be going to space on Blue Origin ‘s New Shepard vehicle at the age of 90

He joined the the U.S. Air Force in 1953 and quickly became captain. In 1962, he entered the Air Force's Aerospace Research Pilot School to prepare to be an astronaut. (Pictured: Blue Origin Flight taking off with 90-year-old William Shatner on board in 2021)

He joined the the U.S. Air Force in 1953 and quickly became captain. In 1962, he entered the Air Force’s Aerospace Research Pilot School to prepare to be an astronaut. (Pictured: Blue Origin Flight taking off with 90-year-old William Shatner on board in 2021)

Pictured: Ed Dwight, the United States' first Black astronaut, in the cockpit of an F-104

Pictured: Ed Dwight, the United States’ first Black astronaut, in the cockpit of an F-104

The 11-minute adventure will take him past the Karman Line, which some claim is the boundary of space,.

There he will experience weightlessness and be able to view Earth’s curvature before heading back home.

The journey will make Dwight the oldest person to fly to space, just beating out ‘Star Trek’ actor William Shatner, who was 90 at the time of his flight on Blue Origin in 2021.

‘This is an absolutely fantastic bookend to the space era of his life,’ his son, Chris Dwight, told the Wall Street Journal. ‘It’s about time.’

‘We feel like we are helping correct something that should have been done decades ago,’ added Antonio Peronace, executive director of the nonprofit Space for Humanity, which is sponsoring Dwight’s trip.

In the 1960s Dwight quickly rose to national fame as the first Black astronaut trainee at the Aerospace Research Pilot School, gracing the covers of Jet and Ebony magazines.

Leland Melvin, a retired NASA astronaut told WSJ: ‘Ed has been the person who started the legacy of -we call ourselves the ‘afronauts’ – because he would have been the first.’

‘He would have walked on the moon, he would have been an Apollo astronaut,’ he added.

Steven Moss, who with Richard Paul wrote ‘We Could Not Fail: The First African Americans in the Space Program,’ said the Kennedy administration was pushing for minorities to enter space as it would be good for their image.

After he completed the training program, Dwight applied to NASA, but despite his stardom, was not given a spot in its 1963 fourteen person class.

Pictured: Dwight looks over a model of the Titan III-X-20 Dyna-Soar combination during a visit to Air Force headquarters in the capital during November 1963. The 31-year-old pilot was in the first class of 16 Air Force, Navy and Marine pilots who went through the new

Pictured: Dwight looks over a model of the Titan III-X-20 Dyna-Soar combination during a visit to Air Force headquarters in the capital during November 1963. The 31-year-old pilot was in the first class of 16 Air Force, Navy and Marine pilots who went through the new ‘Aerospace Research Pilot School’ in 1963 as possible astronauts.

Pictured: Dwight, who rose to the ranks as a captain in the Air Force, stands in front of the F-104 jet fighter

Pictured: Dwight, who rose to the ranks as a captain in the Air Force, stands in front of the F-104 jet fighter

Pictured: Mr. and Mrs. Edward Dwight Sr. hold a picture of their son, Edward Dwight Jr. who has been the first African American selected as a possible astronaut

Pictured: Mr. and Mrs. Edward Dwight Sr. hold a picture of their son, Edward Dwight Jr. who has been the first African American selected as a possible astronaut

The head of the pilot school, Chuck Yeager, who was the first person to break the sound barrier, tried to claim Dwight had struggled to keep up with the other pilots.

And once JFK was assassinated and the push for a minority presence in space disappeared, Dwight said he knew he wouldn’t make it into space. 

‘My hope was just getting into space in any kind of way, but they weren’t going to let that happen,’ Dwight said in the 2023 documentary ‘The Space Race.’ 

‘Had all the things been equal, I would have made it to the moon. I had the capabilities, and I was not given that opportunity.’ 

In the end Dwight pursued a different path, becoming a renowned sculptor. 

His works celebrate black history – notably a prominent Texas memorial depicting slavery and black contributions to the state. 

It also features Bernard Harris, the first Black astronaut to walk in space.

Pictured: Jeff Bezos, owner of Blue Origin and CEO of Amazon

Pictured: Jeff Bezos, owner of Blue Origin and CEO of Amazon

Pictured: Dwight poses for a portrait in his workspace that he sculpts in at his studio in Denver, Colorado

Pictured: Dwight poses for a portrait in his workspace that he sculpts in at his studio in Denver, Colorado

Pictured: Images and news clips that Dwight saved from his time as an astronaut in his studio in Denver, Colorado

Pictured: Images and news clips that Dwight saved from his time as an astronaut in his studio in Denver, Colorado

His son Chris said he is taking his 22 and 20-year-old sons to see their grandfather’s flight take off in Texas.

‘It’s really going to hit home for them what their grandfather has accomplished,’ Chris Dwight told the Wall Street Journal. 

‘I think it’s going to be one of those things like, ‘Wow, that is my family, my forebears, that is going into space,’ something not many people have done.’

While Ed Dwight’s dream was put on hold, the path to space for black Americans wasn’t entirely closed.

Although tragically short-lived, Robert Lawrence became the first black man selected for the space program in 1967.

The wait for the first black person in space continued until 1978 when NASA selected three black men for the Space Shuttle program.

Among them was Guion Bluford, who in 1983, finally achieved the feat of becoming the first black person to reach space.

While Dwight's dream was put on hold, the path to space for black Americans wasn't entirely closed. Although tragically short-lived, Robert Lawrence (pictured) became the first black man selected for the space program in 1967

While Dwight’s dream was put on hold, the path to space for black Americans wasn’t entirely closed. Although tragically short-lived, Robert Lawrence (pictured) became the first black man selected for the space program in 1967

Flashback to the 1960s, Dwight (center) quickly rose to national fame as the first black astronaut trainee at the Aerospace Research Pilot School, gracing the covers of Jet and Ebony magazines

Flashback to the 1960s, Dwight (center) quickly rose to national fame as the first black astronaut trainee at the Aerospace Research Pilot School, gracing the covers of Jet and Ebony magazines

Pictured (L-R): Victor Glover, Ed Dwight and Leland D. Melvin of

Pictured (L-R): Victor Glover, Ed Dwight and Leland D. Melvin of ‘The Space Race’ pose for a portrait during the 2023 Tribeca Festival at Spring Studio on June 12, 2023

Nine years later, Mae Jemison made history as the first black woman astronaut.

Lisa Cortés, a co-director of ‘The Space Race’ documentary, told The Wall Street Journal she is happy Dwight is finally able to finish what he started.

‘Sometimes we have to wait for the arcs of time, justice and progress to intersect,’ Cortés added. ‘I think this is that moment for Ed.’



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