Oldest Astronaut is Among the Thrill-Seekers Who are Flies to Space by Blue Origin

The United States’ first Black astronaut, a former Air Force pilot who was turned down decades earlier, was among the explorers that Blue Origin launched into space on Sunday following a nearly two-year break.

Since a rocket failure in 2022 left competitor Virgin Galactic as the only operator in the nascent suborbital tourism business, this was the company owned and founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ first crewed launch.

A live video from Launch Site One in west Texas showed six individuals launching at approximately 09:36 am local time (1436 GMT), including the sculptor Ed Dwight, who was rumored to be the first astronaut of color in NASA history until he was controversially rejected in the 1960s.

Dwight became the oldest person to visit space ever, reaching 90 years, 8 months, and 10 days.

After the flight, he declared, “This is a life-changing experience, everybody needs to do this,”

“I thought I didn’t really need this in my life,” he continued, thinking back to when he was a young man and was rejected from the astronaut corps. “But I lied,” he laughed heartily.

The seventh human flight for Blue Origin, which views brief excursions in the New Shepard suborbital vehicle as a springboard to bigger goals, such as the creation of a fully functional heavy rocket and lunar lander, is Mission NS-25.

The business has launched 37 people on board New Shepard, a compact, totally reusable rocket system named for Alan Shepard, the first American in space, including the crew that flew on Sunday.

Second Non-Gendered Person

On September 12, 2022, the program suffered a setback when, despite the unmanned capsule’s safe ejection, a New Shepard rocket caught fire shortly after launch.

The cause was identified by a federal probe as an overheated engine nozzle. Blue Origin made the necessary adjustments and launched an unmanned vehicle successfully in December 2023, opening the door for Sunday’s operation.

The spacious and elegant capsule detached from the rocket after liftoff, resulting in zero carbon emissions. With accuracy, the rocket made a vertical landing.

Passengers were able to take in the curve of the Earth and unbuckle their seatbelts for a brief period of weightlessness as the spaceship soared over the Karman Line, the globally acknowledged boundary of space located 62 miles (100 kilometers) above sea level.

After that, the capsule descended back onto Earth and used its parachutes to crash in a dust cloud in the desert. But one of the three parachutes didn’t blow up completely, which would have made the landing more difficult than anticipated.

When contacted for comment, a Blue Origin representative emphasized that the system was built with several failsafes. “The capsule is designed to safely land with one parachute. The overall mission was a success, and all of our astronauts are excited to be back.”

The expedition took about eleven minutes total, round trip.

In 2021, Bezos took part in the program’s inaugural crewed flight. A few months later, decades after he had originally portrayed a space traveler, William Shatner of Star Trek obliterated the boundaries between science fiction and reality when he became the world’s oldest astronaut at the age of 90.

“This is an incredible experience that should be had by all,” Ed Dwight declared following his space voyage with Blue Origin.
At last, to space

Being about two months older than Shatner when he took off, Dwight made history by being the second nonagenarian to travel beyond Earth.

At the age of 77, astronaut John Glenn made history by being the oldest person to orbit the Earth while he was on the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1998.

After decades of denial, Dwight was given the opportunity to succeed on Sunday’s mission.

When President John F. Kennedy appointed him to a very competitive Air Force program known as a gateway for the astronaut corps, he was an excellent test pilot. However, he was not selected in the end.

Citing the strain of racial politics, he quit the military in 1966 and devoted his life to using sculpture to communicate the tale of Black history. Famous people including Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., and others are shown in his artwork, which is on exhibit around the nation.