First Black African To Travel into Space Dies In Accident

Mandlo Maseko was killed in a car accident before he had the opportunity to travel into outer space.

Mandlo Maseko died in a motorcycle accident before traveling into outer space.

By Shujaa Kwanzaa

The South African man who won a chance to be the first Black African in space died in a motorbike crash before turning his dream into reality, his family announced on July 7.

Mandla Maseko, a part-time DJ and candidate officer with the South African Air Force, was nicknamed Afronaut after landing a coveted seat to fly 103-kilometres into space in 2013 in a competition organized by a US-based space academy.

The 30-year-old had beaten a million other entrants from 75 countries to be selected as one of 23 people who would travel on an hour-long sub-orbital trip on the Lynx Mark II spaceship.

Born to a school cleaner and auto tool maker in Soshanguve township near Pretoria, his win was a source of national pride and had neighbors 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.

Maseko 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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