Mandla Maseko, 25, is getting the chance of a lifetime to travel to space after beating out more than 1 million entrants in the Lynx Apollo Space Academy competition. He will be the first Black African to accomplish the feat and only the second South African to see the stars up close.
In 2015, he and 22 other young people will board a Lynx mark II shuttle and blast off 62 miles up for a sub-orbital flight. The DJ first learned of the opportunity when he saw an advertisement for it on television and then on the radio.
He sent a photo of himself jumping off a wall in mid-air. "I want to defy the laws of gravity, and go down history as the first black South African in space," he told the organization when they asked him why he wanted to make the trek into the outer limits.
After being selected as a finalist, he traveled to Orlando, Florida, for a test on physical endurance that included assault courses, skydiving, air combat and a written aptitude test.
Maseko, who calls himself a "future generation astronaut" on Twitter, told The Guardian that it is exciting to be remembered as one of the first to accomplish something. "When you think of the firsts, the first Black presidents – Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela – just to know your name will be written with those people is unbelievable," he said.
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(Photo: ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)