CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Blue Origin announced plans April 4 for its first crewed New Shepard flight in more than 18 months, a mission that will give an opportunity for America’s first Black astronaut candidate to finally go to space.

The company said the six-person crew of the NS-25 suborbital mission will include Ed Dwight. He was a U.S. Air Force pilot announced by the Kennedy administration in 1961 as an astronaut candidate, the first Black person to be considered. He graduated from the Air Force’s Aerospace Research Pilot School but was not selected by NASA in its next astronaut classes. He left the Air Force in 1966 and became a sculptor.

Dwight’s inclusion on NS-25 is sponsored by Space for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that sponsors flights for individuals on commercial spacecraft. “Ed is an industry legend, and his ascension above the Karman Line is long overdue,” said Dylan Taylor, founder of Space for Humanity who flew on New Shepard in 2021, on social media.

Also supporting the flight is the Jaison and Jaime Robinson Foundation; Jaison Robinson flew on the NS-21 New Shepard flight in June 2022.

Dwight is in line to become the oldest person to fly in space, as he is currently about a week older than actor William Shatner was when he became the oldest person to go to space on a New Shepard flight in October 2021. Blue Origin has not revealed a launch date for NS-25 but the announcement of the crew suggests the company plans to conduct the flight in the near future.

The other five people flying on NS-25 are Mason Angel, a venture capitalist; Sylvain Chiron, a French businessman and philanthropist; Kenneth L. Hess, a software entrepreneur; Carol Schaller, a retired accountant; and Gopi Thotakura, a pilot and founder of a wellness center.

The NS-25 mission will be the first crewed flight of New Shepard since the NS-22 mission in August 2022. A month later, a payload-only flight of New Shepard suffered an engine problem a minute into the flight, triggering the capsule’s abort system. The capsule landed safely but the vehicle’ propulsion module was lost.

Blue Origin concluded that the thermal damage caused structural failure of the engine’s nozzle. The company resumed New Shepard flights with another payload mission in December 2023, stating at the time that it would conduct its next crewed mission “soon.”

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...