Mandla Maseko made headlines when he won a seat on a space trip, which was sponsored by the Axe Apollo Space Academy. He hoped to inspire the youth of Africa and show them that one's background didn't matter to reach the stars.
Mandla Maseko, the first African astronaut, tragically lost his life to a motorcycle accident on June 5. His family said that the 30-year-old died in a motorcycle accident, in a statement cited by local media on Sunday. "It is with deep sadness that the Maseko family confirms that Mandla Maseko tragically passed away in a bike accident last night, July 6, 2019," said the family spokesperson, Sthembile Shabangu. "Maseko will be sorely missed. May Mandla Maseko’s kind and beautiful soul rest in eternal peace."
Mandla Maseko has passed away in Motorcycle Accident.— Voice Of Wits (@vowfm) July 8, 2019
He had beaten 1 million people to become one of 23 people who won a chance to go to space.
He would have been the first black African man to go to space.
Our Heartfelt condolences❤️#TheMainSwitch pic.twitter.com/EOgkAStxhM
Nicknamed "Afronaut", South Africa's Mandla Maseko was on the verge of making history by becoming the first black African Astronaut but Africa and Mandla's dream came crashing is a motor bike accident in his home Country on Sunday. pic.twitter.com/DWvz56njJn— Africa Records (@africarecordss) July 8, 2019
Maseko made headlines when he beat a million people and won a seat on a space trip which was sponsored by the Axe Apollo Space Academy. He was given the moniker 'Spaceboy' and 'Afronaut' when news of his win broke in 2013. The 30-year-old was a candidate officer in the South African Air Force.
At the time of his win, Maseko spoke to BBC about beating some tough competition to make it to the top. When he was asked about his interest in space travel, Maseko replied: "I want to defy the laws of gravity, and go down history as the first black South African in space."
The hour-long suborbital space trip was yet to happen, with Maseko being one of 23 people selected to board the Lynx Mark II spaceship.
Mandla 'Spaceboy' Maseko dies before reaching the starshttps://t.co/Jkrnu20A7L— eNCA (@eNCA) July 8, 2019
Maseko was a former civil engineering student, who was also a part-time DJ. He hoped to inspire the youth of Africa as a whole to show them that one's background didn't matter to reach the stars.
Mandla Maseko, widely known as Spaceboy or Afronaut, was one of 23 people who won a competition sponsored by a US-based academy and received a chance to fly to the stars. However, those dreams had not become a reality as the citizen died in a road accident on Saturday night. pic.twitter.com/hzdXlR82au— livereport (@livereport12) July 8, 2019
"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," Maseko said to BBC.