Black astronauts believe 90-year-old Ed Dwight’s first voyage to space was ‘justice’

After his groundbreaking journey into space, 90-year-old Ed Dwight found himself in the company of three retired Black NASA astronauts who expressed their gratitude for his pioneering efforts that paved the way for their own orbital adventures. They referred to his experience aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard NS-25 spacecraft as a symbol of justice.

After being denied the opportunity for more than six decades, Dwight, the nation’s first Black astronaut candidate for the elite Aerospace Research Pilot School, finally achieved his long-awaited goal on Sunday. President John F. Kennedy had initially selected him for the program, which served as the gateway to becoming a NASA astronaut.

Upon his return to Earth, he was warmly received and celebrated by retired NASA astronauts and Space Shuttle veterans Leland Melvin, Charles Bolden, and Bernard Harris. They expressed their gratitude and acknowledged that their own accomplishments in space exploration were made possible because of the foundation he had laid.

Melvin, a former astronaut who flew on two space missions aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis, expressed his satisfaction with the inclusion of Ed Dwight’s story in the history books. “Finally, we have achieved justice by ensuring that Ed Dwight’s journey to space is recognized,” he stated in an interview with ABC News.

Dwight, despite being appointed by Kennedy to the Aerospace Research Pilot School and receiving a recommendation from the Air Force, was not selected for the NASA astronaut corps following Kennedy’s assassination.

After retiring from public life in 1966, Dwight embarked on a new journey as an entrepreneur before pursuing his passion as a sculptor specializing in historic Black figures. In an interview with ABC News, he revealed that his departure from the Air Force left him with a lingering sense of disappointment for not being able to achieve his dream of becoming an astronaut.

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Dwight expressed his frustration with encountering a perplexing obstacle in his projects, stating, “Every time I started a project, I’ve got it finished. And here this thing came along and it was a great big mysterious question mark sitting there.” He acknowledged that humans tend to dismiss such challenges, believing they are unnecessary.

As the number of supporters and fans grew, they encouraged him to seize the opportunity. This led him to reflect on the importance of bringing it to the forefront of his thoughts.

Dwight explained that he realized he actually needed it because he had to complete the task.

On Sunday, Dwight embarked on an extraordinary journey to space, joining a group of six individuals who took off from the remote Texas desert. It was an experience made possible by the generous sponsorship of the nonprofit organization Space for Humanity.

In an interview with ABC News, Dwight, a retired Air Force captain, revealed that his fascination did not lie in the weightlessness caused by zero G-force gravity. He mentioned that he had already experienced plenty of that during his training in the 1960s.

“I had a strong desire to gaze into the vastness of space,” Dwight expressed. “People I hold in high regard had advised me that if given the option between experiencing weightlessness for about 10 minutes or simply observing, it was unanimously agreed upon that looking was far more significant to me, given my inherently curious nature.”

In awe of the magnificence of our Earth, he expressed, “When one truly observes and appreciates the grandeur of this planet, it is truly mind-boggling. It has the power to shake up one’s entire perspective.”

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According to Dwight, the experience of viewing Earth from space was truly life-altering. He went on to suggest that every elected leader in Congress should be mandated to have the same experience.

Dwight emphasized the importance of global unity and the need to preserve our planet. He expressed that if people could witness the consequences of their actions by flying around the world multiple times, they would realize the value of unity and the detrimental effects of destroying the Earth.

As I witnessed Dwight finally accomplish his goal, my mind wandered to the possibilities that could have unfolded for Black Americans had he become an astronaut sixty years ago. As a veteran of two NASA Space Shuttle missions myself, I couldn’t help but contemplate the missed opportunities and untapped potential that could have been realized.

“When I was 13 years old, I looked up to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin and dreamed of becoming an astronaut,” Harris shared. “I often wondered what it would have meant for me if Ed had been able to fly. It’s because during that time, I didn’t have any role models who looked like me.”

Harris turned to Dwight, who was seated next to him, and expressed his heartfelt emotions, saying, “Seeing you take off today brought tears to our eyes. We are truly grateful for what you have done today and for everything you did for us in the past.”

Seeing Dwight go to space filled a hole, said Bolden. He flew on four Space Shuttle missions before becoming the first Black Administrator of NASA.

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“We absolutely needed this,” Bolden exclaimed, praising Dwight as an inspiration to the younger generation, proving that with unwavering determination, any goal can be accomplished.

When questioned by ABC News about what experiences he still desires to have, Dwight chuckled and likened his space expedition to “getting a taste of honey.”

“I want an entire jar of that,” exclaimed Dwight. “I dream of going into orbit. That’s my ultimate aspiration.”

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