Former Air Force Capt. Ed Dwight, 90, after the successful Blue Origin New Shepard rocket flight on May 19. COURTESY PHOTO, Blue Origin

Former Air Force Capt. Ed Dwight, 90, after the successful Blue Origin New Shepard rocket flight on May 19. COURTESY PHOTO, Blue Origin

Kent-based Blue Origin completes seventh human spaceflight

Six-member crew included Ed Dwight, the nation’s first Black astronaut candidate in the 1960s

Kent-based Blue Origin successfully completed its seventh human spaceflight on Sunday, May 19, the 25th flight for the New Shepard program.

New Shepard has now flown 37 people into space, although this was Blue Origin’s first crewed flight since a Sept. 12, 2022 mishap after a launch in West Texas as the structural failure of an engine nozzle caused by higher than expected engine operating temperatures, according to a Federal Aviation Administration news release. No people were on the test flight.

The latest astronaut crew included:

Ed Dwight, a former Air Force captain who was selected by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 as the nation’s first Black astronaut candidate but never had the opportunity to fly; Mason Angel, founder of Denver, Colorado-based Industrious Ventures; Sylvain Chiron, the founder of the Brasserie Mont Blanc, one of the largest craft breweries in France; Kenneth L. Hess, founder of California-based Science Buddies, a K-12 nonprofit created to level the playing field and improve STEM literacy; Carol Schaller, a retired certified public accountant; and Gopi Thotakura, co-founder of Preserve Life Corp, a global center for holistic wellness and applied health located near Atlanta.

“A big thank you to our astronaut customers for the opportunity to provide this life-changing experience,” said Phil Joyce, Senior Vice President, New Shepard. “Each of you are pioneers helping to advance our mission to build a road to space for the benefit of Earth.”

Dwight, 90, enjoyed the flight.

“Fantastic! A life-changing experience,” said Dwight, according to npr.org. “Everyone needs to do this! I didn’t know I needed this in my life, but now I need it in my life.”

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson commented Monday, May 20 on X, formerly Twitter, about the flight.

”What an inspiring moment to watch Capt. Ed Dwight soar into space aboard Blue Origin’s NS-25 spacecraft,” Nelson said. “Well deserved!”

NS-25 lifted off from the company’s West Texas launch site and lasted about 10 minutes.

While Dwight’s flight was sponsored, the others paid a fee after filling out an application. Blue Origin does not release the price paid by crew members.

Blue Origin opened in 2000 in Kent. The company is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Blue Origin launched its first rides into space in 2021 and eventually plans to have people living and working in space.


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