Bezos’s Blue Origin sends first crew to edge of space since 2022

Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’s rocket company, sent its first crew into space in nearly two years, after a failed, uncrewed test flight in 2022 temporarily grounded passenger flights.

The New Shepard rocket successfully completed its 25th mission into space Sunday. The 10-minute flight also marked the seventh time the company has flown tourists into space.

There were six crew members aboard Sunday’s mission — including Ed Dwight, a former Air Force captain who was selected in 1961 by President Kennedy as the first Black astronaut candidate for NASA’s early astronaut corps. Dwight was ultimately not chosen for the 1963 class, which included Apollo 11’s Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. NASA didn’t select Black astronauts until 1978, and Guion Bluford became the first African American in space in 1983, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

Dwight, now 90 years old, also made history as the oldest person in space. He is nearly two months older than the “Star Trek” actor, William Shatner, was in 2021, when he joined a passenger flight.

After returning from the short trip to space, Dwight called it a “life-changing experience.”

“It was absolutely terrific. I thought I really didn’t need this in my life but now I need it in my life. I am ecstatic. It was a life-changing experience. Everybody needs to do this,” Dwight said shortly after emerging from the capsule Sunday.

The other five passengers — Mason Angel, Sylvain Chiron, Kenneth L. Hess, Carol Schaller and Gopi Thotakura — included four business entrepreneurs from the U.S. and France and a retired accountant, the AP reported. Their ticket prices were not disclosed.

Dwight is a sculptor from Denver. His ticket was sponsored in part by the nonprofit Space for Humanity.

The Associated Press contributed.

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