Tragedy before triumph: ‘Afronaut’ dies in motorcycle crash

Mandla Maseko who was with the South African air force and also a part time DJ, had won a competition to fly into space, beating off over a million applicants to do so.

He was to be the first black African to go into space and had been tagged as the ‘Afronaut’, but this tragic crash has cut this dream to shreds.

Applications from 75 countries were whittled down to 23 winners who were to travel on the hour long sub orbital trip, taking a flight 64miles or 103km into space being organised by a US centered space academy onboard a Lynx Mark II spaceship.

The crash occurred last Saturday where Mr Maseko succumbed to his injuries. He had become somewhat of a local celebrity winning admiration from the wider public and media outlets in South Africa.

A week was spent at the Kennedy Space Academy in Florida where he had skydived and trained in air combat and G-force trials. He was in the process of becoming the first black African to go into space, although an actual date had not been scheduled at the time of his untimely death.

 

 

 

 

Born to a school cleaner and auto tool maker in Soshanguve township near Pretoria, his win was a source of national pride and had neighbours high-fiving him for putting South Africa’s townships on the “galactic map”.

He spent a week at the Kennedy Space Academy in Florida where he skydived and undertook air combat and G-force training.

While there he met and posed for pictures with US astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who was the second man ever to set foot on the moon after Neil Armstrong as part of the 1969 Apollo 11 space mission.

He had been originally scheduled to fly in 2015 but no firm plans for his trip had been made public at the time of his death.

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