The opportunity for a black African to visit space will have to wait until further notice.
As you may know, no black African has ever experienced space travel. This sad piece of history has become more demeaning after the only black African ever selected to travel to space has died under questionable circumstances.
Mandla Maseko, now 30-years-old, was selected in 2014 to become one of the 23 people to visit space. The South African would have become the first black African to have such an experience.
Sadly, this will no longer come to pass as his family has released a statement that Mandla Maseko lost his life after being hit off his motorcycle by a car on Saturday.
Being a black man in unfamiliar territory after being selected for the journey into space, Maseko was dubbed the African Spaceboy and Afronaut by the media. He got selected for the journey at the age of 26 beating a million people to become one of the chosen 23.
The journey to space is sponsored by the Axe Apollo Space Academy and would involve an hour-long sub-orbital trip.
His interview with CNN on January 9, 2014, where he spoke a renowned journalist in front of two hanging NASA spacesuits, after landing a coveted seat to fly 103-kilometers (64 miles) into space was well-publicized and viewed by millions of people all over the globe.
In what has appeared to be not just a blow to the family but the African continent in general, Maseko was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle on Saturday.
Speaking to News24 on the tragedy, his business manager and friend, Sthembile Shabangu said:
"He was a larger-than-life figure. We are all still reeling at the moment. We are very distraught because most people only found out this morning. It is still very hard, painful and tragic.
"There were still rocket tests happening before they could go up. He really thought that if he went up to space he could inspire young African children that they could do anything. He used to always say that the sky was no longer the limit."
"He put a lot of people first and was an ambitious person with big dreams."
Adding that details of his funeral service will be announced soon, Shabangu said that even though Maseko did not end up going to space, he would have wanted his hope to spread.
She also said that the late Maseko worked to inspire many African children to pursue careers in science.About Mandla Maseko
- A resident of Soshanguve, Maseko trained as a private pilot and became a CPL with the South African National Defense Force.
- He was also a public speaker and community worker.
- He was an avid biker with the Tshwane Legend Bikers.
- In 2016 he was honored by the Gauteng Department of Education and had the science building at the Curtis Nkondo School of Specialization named after him.
Header Image Credit: Space in Africa