South African pilot, Mandla Maseko, would have been the first African to travel into space.
Mandla "Spaceboy" Maseko, a South African pilot and member of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), competed with 1 million people back in 2014 and came out victorious as one of 23 people to win a seat on an hour-long trip to space. He would have been the first African to reach suborbital space but was tragically killed in a motorbike accident yesterday, News24 reports.
In 2013, the AXE Apollo Space Academy launched an online contest that sought to send men and women from 60 countries all over the world to travel to space on the state-of-the-art Lynx space planes. American astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, the second person to walk on the moon back in 1969 on NASA's Apollo 11 mission, even described the initiative as an "extraordinary opportunity to experience what [he'd] encountered in space".
One of Maseko's close friends, Sthembile Shabangu described him and his journey saying, "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. She went on to add that, "He put a lot of people first and was an ambitious person with big dreams."
Africans, and more especially South Africans, are mourning the untimely death of the promising 30-year-old. Tributes continue to pour in for Maseko on social media.
Read more about Maseko's journey here.