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Ed Dwight, first African American candidate for space travel, takes off 60 years later



Ed Dwight, who 60 years ago became the United States’ first black candidate for space travel, has finally taken off.

Mr Dwight was a US Air Force pilot when then-president John F Kennedy championed him as a candidate for NASA’s early astronaut corps.

However, he was not picked for the 1963 class, which included eventual Gemini and Apollo astronauts, including Apollo 11’s Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.

NASA did not select black astronauts until 1978, and Guion Bluford became the first African American in space in 1983.

Three years earlier, the Soviets launched the first black astronaut, Arnaldo Tamayo Mendez, a Cuban of African descent.

On Sunday, however, Mr Dwight, now 90, finally reached space.

He experienced a few minutes of weightlessness with five other passengers aboard the Blue Origin capsule as it skimmed space on a roughly 10-minute flight.

He called it “a life-changing experience”.

Ed Dwight is now the oldest person to travel into space. (AP: Chris Pizzello)

“I thought I really didn’t need this in my life,” Mr Dwight said shortly after exiting the capsule.

“But now I need it in my life … I am ecstatic.”

The brief flight from west Texas made Mr Dwight the new record-holder for oldest person in space — nearly two months older than Star Trek actor William Shatner was when he went up in 2021.

It also marked Blue Origin’s first crewed launch in nearly two years.

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