Afronaut’s space dream ends with tragic road death

Staff Writer | Jul 08, 2019
Thirty-year-old Mandla Maseko would have been the first black African to journey into space.

Maseko – known as Spaceboy and Afronaut – beat 1 million people to become one of 23 people who, in 2014, won a seat sponsored by the Axe Apollo Space Academy on an hour-long sub-orbital trip.

But Maseko’s dream ended on Saturday when he died after being hit by a car while riding his motorcycle.

His business manager and close friend Sthembile Shabangu told News24: ‘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.’

Shabangu said, however, that Maseko would have wanted his hope to spread.

‘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.’

Maseko trained as a private pilot and joined the South African National Defence Force. As a public speaker and community worker, Maseko worked to inspire children to pursue careers in science. He was also an avid biker with the Tshwane Legend Bikers.

In 2016, he was honoured by the Gauteng Department of Education and had the science building at the Curtis Nkondo School of Specialisation named after him.

 

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