A South African pilot who trained with NASA and was set to become the first black African in space died in a motorbike crash
- A South African man who beat one million applicants to win a trip to space, and be the first black African to leave earth's atmosphere, died in a motorbike crash.
- Mandla Maseko, an officer in South Africa's air force, was one of 23 people to win the AXE Apollo Space Academy competition in 2013.
- Maseko was flown to NASA's Kennedy Space Centre in Florida for G-force and skydiving training, ahead of a 62-mile ascent into sub-orbit planned for 2015.
- He was killed in South African the city of Pretoria on Saturday, his family told local media.
- Maseko, who was also a DJ, was nicknamed the "Afronaut" by South African media.
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A South African man poised to be the first black African in space has been killed in a motorcycle accident.
Mandla Maseko, an officer in South Africa's air force and one of 23 people given the chance to visit space in a 2013 AXE body spray competition, was killed in Pretoria on Saturday, his family told South African media on Sunday.
The AXE Apollo Space Academy competition entailed an hour-long flight onboard the XCOR Aerospace's Lynx spacecraft, flying out of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The flight - which was to rise 62 miles into sub-orbit was scheduled for 2015, was delayed amid financial issues for XCOR.
Maseko's friend Sthembile Shabangu said he was still hopeful he'd reach space one day.
"There were still rocket tests happening before they could go up," he told News 24.
Maseko was nicknamed "Afronaut" after the news of his selection was first reported by South African media.
Maseko was sent to NASA's Kennedy Space Centre where he was briefed, trained to skydive, and undertook G-force training.
He told the Guardian in 2013 what it meant to be chosen to be the first back African man in space on his return from the US.
"I'm not trying to make this a race thing but us blacks grew up dreaming to a certain stage."
"You dreamed of being a policeman or a lawyer but you knew you won't get as far as pilot or astronaut. Then I went to space camp and I thought, I can actually be an astronaut."
Maseko told the Guardian in a second interview in January 2015: "The world needs space and Africa needs space more than anybody."
Other Africans have reached space, like white South African millionaire Mark Shuttleworth, who became the first from the continent to do so in 2002.
Maseko, however, would have been the first black African. In its history NASA has sent 17 African-American men and women into space.
My dearest friend ❤️- SheIsWinning (@Miss_Molebo) July 7, 2019
My sister's closest friend ❤️
My nephew's godfather ❤️
... and you were supposed to be the first Black African in space... #RIPMandla #RIPMandlaMaseko #MandlaMaseko pic.twitter.com/rtyZY4W9c8
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