Ed Dwight, first US Black astronaut candidate, will finally get to space with Blue Origin at 90 years old

Blue Origin announces NS-25 mission crew including French brewer, venture capital founder, ancestry history engineer, world traveler losing her sight and a pilot. The launch will mark Blue Origin’s first human spaceflight since August 2022. Blue Origin returned to flight late last year after a launch abort and investigation in September 2022.

VAN HORN, Texas – Ed Dwight, America’s first Black astronaut candidate, will finally fly into space at 90 years old on Blue Origin’s next launch to the edge of space.

Dwight is among the six-person crew launching on Blue Origin’s 25th New Shepard mission known as NS-25, the company founded by Jeff Bezos announced on Thursday.

Dwight served as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy selected Dwight to train under the U.S. Air Force training program that would later produce NASA's first astronauts, known as the Mercury 7. 

While Dwight was one of 26 people recommended to NASA by the Air Force to become astronauts, the agency did not select him. It would take another 20 years before Guion Bluford Jr. became NASA’s first Black astronaut.

Dwight left the military in 1966 and started several businesses before dedicating his life to telling the story of Black history through sculpture.

Blue Origin has launched more than 30 paying customers above the Karman line, the internationally recognized boundary of space, for an 11-minute experience in zero gravity. 

Blue Origin hasn’t disclosed the ticket price, but customers have paid between zero and $28 million for a seat. Dwight is now one of four seats sponsored by the nonprofit Space for Humanity, which covers the cost to help more people experience what astronauts call the "overview effect." The Jaison and Jamie Robinson Foundation also contributed to the cost of his flight. 


NS-25 will mark the company’s seventh human spaceflight. It will be the first human spaceflight since a September 2022 uncrewed mission ended in an emergency abort. 

The other passengers on the upcoming New Shepard flight include an interesting group involved in business, exploration, amateur farming and philanthropy.

Sylvain Chiron is the founder of the French craft brewery Brasserie Mont Blanc and a space fan who grew up watching Space Shuttle launches while taking flying lessons in Florida. 

Carol Schaller is a retired CPA who has visited 25 countries since being diagnosed with an impairment that will likely cause her to go blind. She and her husband have a farm in Lumberville, Pennsylvania, with cows, chickens, a dog, and a dancing parrot. 

Gopi Thotakura is an avid traveler, business person and pilot who has served as an international medical jet pilot. 


Business executive Mason Angel founded venture capital fund Industries Ventures and focuses on STEM education through his family’s foundation. 

Software engineer Kenneth Hess developed the Family Tree Maker products that would later become part of Ancestry.com. He founded Science Buddies, an educational nonprofit focused on STEM literacy. 

The company has not announced a target launch date for the NS-25 mission from its West Texas launch site.