Blue Origin launches historic flight into space

Blue origin

(NEW YORK) – Ed Dwight, the United States' first Black astronaut candidate, became the oldest person to fly into space on Sunday when Blue Origin launched its New Shepard NS-25 spacecraft and completed its first crewed flight since 2022.

Dwight, 90, made his first trip into space more than 60 decades after President John F. Kennedy appointed him in 1961 to the elite Pilot School for Aerospace Research – the Air Force program from which NASA astronauts are selected. Although Dwight was recommended by the Air Force, he was not selected for the NASA astronaut corps after Kennedy's assassination.

New Shepard NS-25 was Blue Origin's seventh manned flight into space. The flight made Dwight the oldest person to make the journey to space and back.

“It's going to take a long time,” Dwight said as he stepped out of the capsule Sunday and pumped his fist in the air after landing in the remote Texas desert

“It was absolutely amazing. I thought I really didn't need this in my life, but now I need it in my life. I’m thrilled,” Dwight said. “It was a life-changing experience. Everyone has to do that.”

The New Shepard NS-25 took off from Texas at 10:36 a.m. ET with five other passengers on board.

It was the seventh manned flight for Blue Origin, but the first since the Federal Aviation Administration shut down the space tourist program after an in-flight failure in September 2022 during an unmanned research mission.

After entering private life in 1966, Dwight spent a decade as an entrepreneur before later becoming a sculptor of historical black figures.

Dwight's seat on the flight is sponsored by the nonprofit organization Space for Humanity.

Charles Bolden, the first black NASA administrator and astronaut who completed four missions himself, wished Dwight good luck on his flight late Saturday.

“You've waited a long time for this opportunity and all of us who stand on your shoulders couldn't be happier,” Bolden told ABC News, emphasizing the word “long.” “I know how much you've dreamed of this, and I want you to take some time during the flight to soak it all in and take it all in. You deserve every moment of this. You have been a role model and mentor to many of us for so long and our spirit is with you.”

The launch window opened at 8:30 a.m. local time from West Texas.

Dwight was joined by Mason Angel, founder of venture capital fund Industrious Ventures; Sylvain Chiron, the founder of Brasserie Mont Blanc; Kenneth Hess, a software developer and entrepreneur; Carol Schaller, a retired accountant; and Gopi Thotakura, an airman and founder of Preserve Life Corp.

Actor William Shatner was previously the oldest person to fly into space. He was 90 years and 206 days old when he flew on a previous Blue Origin flight on October 13, 2021. Dwight will be 90 years and 253 days old on Sunday.

At 77, John Glenn remains the oldest person to actually launch into orbit. Blue Origin flies just above the Karman line, about 62 miles above Earth and NASA's definition of space, while Glenn flew 100 miles higher on the space shuttle Discovery in 1998.

ABC News' Gina Sunseri contributed to this report.

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