Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Citizen
Mandla Maseko: First Black African Meant To Travel To Space Has Died
Mandla Maseko, a South African DJ who was set to be the first black African in space, has died.
Maseko, 30, died in a motorbike crash before he was able to go to space. He had beat out 1 million others for the opportunity to travel to space which was sponsored by the Axe Apollo Space Academy.
After winning, Maseko had told the Guardian, “It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I’m envious of myself. I’m not trying to make this a race thing, but us blacks grew up dreaming to a certain stage. You dreamed of being a policeman or a lawyer, but you know you won’t get as far as pilot or astronaut. Then I went to space camp and I thought, I can actually be an astronaut.”
In 2014, Maseko was announced as one of the 23 winners of the contest globally.
After, he became a private pilot and corporal with the South African National Defense Force.
A family statement says he was a public speaker and did work in the community; inspiring African children to pursue science related careers.
Maseko was honored by the Gauteng Department of Education in South Africa in 2016 and a science building at a school was named after him.
The family spokeswoman, Sthembile Shabangu, said in a statement that the funeral and memorial service details will be announced later this week.
South Africans have been paying tribute to Maseko on social media with the hashtag #RIPMandlaMaseko.