Ed Dwight went to space 63 years after training to be the first black astronaut

More than 60 years after Edward Dwight was selected as the first black astronaut, only to see his place in the history of space exploration taken and delayed by the specters of racism and political injustice. reign, he went to space on Sunday morning.

After landing, ending the flight lasting 9 minutes and 53 seconds, Mr. Dwight stood on the steps outside the crew compartment door, raised his hands in the air and said, “It’s been a long time coming.”

A few minutes later, standing outside the plane’s cabin, he said the flight had been “life-changing.” He admitted that he said earlier in the day that he didn’t need a flight in his life. “But I lied,” he said.

Mr. Dwight, 90 years old, was one of six people on Blue Origin’s space flight New shepherd The rocket launched Sunday morning from a private launch site near Van Horn, Texas. The flight made him the oldest person ever to go into space; He surpassed actor William Shatner.

After Mr. Dwight, now a sculptor, was selected to participate in the Blue Origin flight, Mr told the New York Times that ultimately sending it into space was not justice, but something that should have happened at some point.

“My whole life is about getting things done,” Mr. Dwight said. “This is the climax.”

The idea of ​​sending Mr. Dwight to space received support in 1961, in the context of the White House’s campaign to diversify the country’s space program. Mr. Dwight, a handsome and charismatic pilot, was then selected for the astronaut training program. He had the backing of President John F. Kennedy and the support of the Black press, but countless obstacles prevented him from reaching space.

Chuck Yeager, who runs the Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in California, sees Mr. Dwight as an ordinary pilot selected for the program for political reasons. Mr. Dwight said that Racism could be the reason that General Yeager discriminated against him and wanted to get rid of him. General Yeager removed Mr. Dwight from the program, but he was not selected as an astronaut.

After Mr. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, support for Mr. Dwight’s role in the space program seemed to wane and in 1966 he left the Air Force.

Mr. Dwight went on to become a successful restaurateur, a real estate developer and a renowned artist whose specialty was sculpting prominent black historical figures.

It took until 1983 that the United States will send a black astronaut to space, Lieutenant Colonel Guion S. Bluford Jr.

After all these years, Mr. Dwight finally went to space on Sunday while traveling on a spacecraft. New shepherd rocket.

It was the seventh human flight by Blue Origin, the space company founded by Jeff Bezos. The other passengers were Mason Angel, founder of Industrious Ventures, a venture capital fund; Sylvain Chiron, founder of Brasserie du Mont-Blanc, a craft brewery in France; Kenneth L. Hess, software engineer and entrepreneur; Gopi Thotakura, a pilot; and Carol Schaller, a retired CPA who was told she would go blind in 2017 and began traveling extensively including Antarctica and base camp on Mount Everest.

The rocket took off at 9:35 a.m. Central time and landed back on Earth within 10 minutes. The capsule carrying human passengers landed separately shortly afterward, at 9:45 a.m. Only two of its three parachutes were deployed, but this did not cause any serious problems for landing.

The capsule door opened around 10 am. Mr. Dwight stood outside and said he was “ecstatic.”

“Everybody needs to do this,” Mr. Dwight said.


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