Tributes are pouring in for 30-year-old Mandla Maseko, 30, the first black African who would have travelled to space, but who died in motorcycle accident this weekend.
Maseko, known as ‘Spaceboy’ and ‘Afronaut,’ beat off millions of entrants and won a spot on the Axe Apollo Space Academy in the US, along with 22 others.
However, his trip to space was not meant to be after he died after being hit by a car while riding his motorcycle on Saturday.
“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,” close friend and business manager Sthembile Shabangu said.
A Soshanguve resident, Maseko went on to train as a private pilot and became a corporal with the South African National Defence Force.
Shabangu added that as a public speaker and community worker, Maseko worked tirelessly to inspire African children to pursue careers in science.
He was also 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 Specialisation named after him.