The would-be first black African man to go to space has died in an unfortunate motorbike accident before achieving his monumental goal.
The South African Mandla Maseko, 30, was killed on Saturday, a family statement says.
In 2013, the South African Air Force member beat one million entrants to win one of 23 places at a space academy in the US.
He had spent a week at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida doing tests in preparation for the space flight, scheduled to be an hour-long sub-orbital trip on the Lynx Mark II spaceship. However it had yet to happen at the time of Maseko’s death, originally scheduled for 2015.
“I wanted to do something that will motivate and inspire the youth of South Africa and Africa as a whole, and hopefully to some extent, the youth worldwide, and show that it doesn’t matter what background you come from, you can have whatever you want as long as you put hard work and determination into it,” he said in an interview with the BBC.
Nicknamed Afronaut and Spaceboy, Maseko described himself as a typical township boy from Pretoria. There has been an outpouring of tributes on social media for the young South African.
NEWS: Mandla Maseko, who beat a million people to win a sub-orbital trip that could have seen him become the first black African in space, has reportedly been killed in a motorcycle crash.#RIPMandlaMaseko pic.twitter.com/ou2bPRoNrI
— Phil Mphela (@PhilMphela) July 7, 2019
— #DjGigantic #SmileysHalfskopNCarValet (@Djgigantic_ydjs) July 8, 2019
— Ayanda (@AyandaPhumelela) July 8, 2019
— Benevolent Being (@boikanyo_b) July 8, 2019
This morning, his death hit me differently. He was going to do so much for himself and this country… This continent. I wish I had returned that call. He was such a great friend #RIPMandlaMaseko pic.twitter.com/tUJD6Hwpi1
— Ms. Thandwa (@Thandwa_Kolele) July 8, 2019