Blue Origin launched a historic flight into space

“It’s been a long time coming,” said 90-year-old Ed Dwight following the space flight.

Ed Dwight, America’s first black astronaut, became the oldest person in space on Sunday as Blue Origin launched its New Shepherd NS-25 spacecraft and completed its first human flight since 2022.

Dwight, 90, made his first trip into space in more than 60 decades, in 1961 when President John F. Kennedy assigned him to the elite Space Research Pilot School — the Air Force program from which NASA astronauts are selected. Despite being nominated by the Air Force, Dwight was not selected for the NASA astronaut corps after Kennedy’s assassination.

The New Shepherd NS-25 is Blue Origin’s seventh manned aircraft. The flight made Dwight the oldest person to go into space and back.

“It’s been a long time,” Dwight said as he pumped his fist into the air as he stepped out of the capsule Sunday after landing in the remote Texas desert.

“It was really cool. I thought I didn’t really need it in my life, but now I need it in my life. I’m ecstatic,” Dwight said. “It’s a life-changing experience. Everyone should do it.”

The New Shepard NS-25 flight took off from Texas at 10:36 a.m. ET with five other passengers.

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This will be the seventh manned flight for Blue Origin, but the first since the Federal Aviation Administration canceled the space tourism program in September 2022 during an uncrewed research mission that failed in midair.

After entering private life in 1966, Dwight spent a decade as a businessman and later became a sculptor of historical black figures.

Dwight’s seat on the plane is provided by the nonprofit Space Agency for Humanity.

Charles Bolton, the first black NASA administrator and an astronaut who flew solo on four missions, wished Dwight good luck late Saturday.

“You’ve waited a long time for this opportunity, and all of us standing on your shoulders couldn’t be happier,” Bolton told ABC News, emphasizing the word “long.” “I know how much you’ve dreamed about this, and I wish you could take a moment when you fly and soak it all in. You deserve every moment of it. You’ve been a role model and a mentor. Many of us have been with you for so long.

The release window opened at 8:30 a.m. ET from West Texas.

Dwight was joined by Mason Angel, founder of venture capital fund Industrious Ventures; Sylvain Chiron, founder of Brasserie Mont Blanc; Kenneth Hess, a software engineer and entrepreneur; Carol Schaller, a retired accountant; and Kobi Totakura, a pilot and founder of Preserve Life Corp.

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Actor William Shatner is the oldest person ever to fly into space. He was 90 years and 206 days old on October 13, 2021 when he flew on the previous Blue Origin flight. Dwight will be 90 years and 253 days old on Sunday.

John Glenn, 77, is actually the oldest person ever to be launched into orbit. Blue Origin is 62 miles above Earth and travels just above NASA’s definition of outer space, the Karman Line, while Glenn went 100 miles aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1998.

ABC News’ Gina Sunseri contributed to this report.

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