Meet Ed Dwight, USAF Veteran, Sculptor, and a real American hero.

Sculptor and USAF veteran Ed Dwight made history May 19, 2024, breaking actor William Shatner’s record as the oldest person to go into space. He was supposed to make history decades ago as the first African-American in space. He was selected for astronaut training in 1961, but due to the social prejudices of the time, NASA chose not to send Captain Dwight into space.

Captain Edward J. Dwight, USAF, circa 1960s {image via the United States Air Force}

Instead, Cuba sent the first Black cosmonaut into space in 1980, Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez onboard Soyuz 38. The United States of America did not send a Black astronaut into space until 1983, when Guion Bluford went up aboard the space shuttle Challenger.

Ed Dwight, a 90 year old engineer and sculptor finally made it into space as a guest of honor on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket.

In 1951 African-American poet Langston Hughes asked in his poem Harlem, “what happens to a dream deferred?”

Harlem, by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Sculpture by Ed Dwight of Dr. Martin Luther King, one of three works Dwight created on this subject.

Sometimes, a dream deferred comes true. Edward J. Dwight, who should have been the first Black astronaut decades ago, finally made it into space. He was made an honorary member of the Space Force in 2020. He earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering in 1957 from Arizona State University, taking night classes while serving in the Air Force. In 1977, he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree i sculpture from the University of Denver. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1986 by his alma mater, Arizona State University. Dr. Dwight had an asteroid named for him in 2021.

Many of his sculptures focus on African-American history, including the Denmark Vesey statue in Hampton Park, Charleston, South Carolina. Vesey was executed in 1822. Dwight has created at least three sculptures of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Dwight rode aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket to and from the Kármán line—the boundary 62 miles above Earth’s surface where the atmosphere ends and space begins. He had to wait half a century, but he made it. His crewmates were “Mason Angel, the founder of a venture capital fund; Sylvain Chiron, the founder of a craft brewery in France; Kenneth L. Hess, a software engineer and entrepreneur; Gopi Thotakura, a pilot and aviator; and Carol Schaller, a retired accountant who has been traveling the world since being told by her doctor in 2017 that she will go blind.”

Dr. Dwight’s seat aboard the rocket was sponsored by Space for Humanity and Blue Origin, as well as the Jaison and Jamie Robinson Foundation.

When the history books are written, Dr. Edward J. Dwight is more likely to be remembered for his contributions to Art than to Space Exploration. But as Heinlein predicted years ago, space should be a good environment for the elderly. Dr. Wright at ninety years old is currently the oldest person to go to space. That is worth celebrating. We salute you Dr. Wright.

Susan Macdonald
Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as 26 short stories, mostly fantasy in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, Swords &Sorceries Vols. 1, 2, & 5, “Cat Tails” “Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.