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Former Air Force Captain Ed Dwight, at 90 years old, became the oldest person to go to space on May 19, 2024, as part of the Blue Origin spaceflight that launched from Texas. He joined five other passengers on board the New Shepard rocket, marking the company’s 25th flight for the program. This flight was the first crewed spaceflight for Blue Origin in nearly two years, with the rocket taking off at 9:35 a.m. Central Time and landing back on Earth within 10 minutes. The cost of the spaceflight per person was not disclosed at the time of publication, but it was reported that only two of the three parachutes deployed during landing, causing no serious issues.

Blue Origin, founded by Jeff Bezos, has flown a total of 37 people into space, including the crew on this most recent flight. Ed Dwight, a former Air Force captain turned sculptor, surpassed the previous record set by actor William Shatner by becoming the oldest person to go to space. Dwight, who was selected for a Blue Origin flight seat sponsored by Space for Humanity and the Jaison and Jamie Robinson Foundation, expressed in an interview with The New York Times that this trip was a long-awaited accomplishment in his life. He reflected on his journey as the culmination of his experiences that began in 1961 when he was chosen by President John F. Kennedy to be the nation’s first Black astronaut candidate.

Blue Origin shared a video on social media showcasing Dwight’s journey and highlighting his historic spaceflight experience. The video emphasized the impact of the trip on Dwight and the other passengers, stating that they were “forever changed” by the experience. Before his return to Earth, Dwight emerged from the capsule ecstatic and described the experience as life-changing, urging everyone to have a similar experience. The successful completion of this seventh human spaceflight for Blue Origin marked a significant milestone for the company’s New Shepard program. Despite a minor issue with the parachutes during landing, the mission was deemed a success, with all passengers safely returning to Earth.

In the months leading up to the flight, Dwight expressed his excitement and anticipation for the adventure, emphasizing that this opportunity was a natural progression in his life that should have happened sooner. Having waited decades for this moment, he saw the spaceflight as a culmination of his drive to achieve new things and make an impact. As a trailblazer for Black astronauts, Dwight’s journey to space symbolized a significant milestone in his lifelong pursuit of breaking barriers and reaching new heights. The collaboration between Blue Origin, Space for Humanity, and other sponsors allowed Dwight to fulfill his dream of experiencing space travel and ultimately becoming the oldest person to go to space. The successful completion of this mission marked a significant achievement for all involved and highlighted the transformative power of space exploration on individuals and society as a whole.

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