Young South African to Be First Black African in Space

Mandla Maseko speaks to a journalist in front of two hanged NASA spacesuits on January 9, 2014, in Mabopane, north of Pretoria. 25-year-old Maseko has landed a coveted seat to fly 103-kilometres (64 miles) into space in 2015, after winning a competition organised by a US-based space academy. He beat off a million other entrants from 75 countries to win the $100,000 seat. The South African "typical township boy" was named one of the 23 winners worldwide shortly after the announcement of the death of icon and first black president Nelson Mandela. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER JOE        (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)

Young South African to Be First Black African in Space

Mandla Maseko, a 25-year-old South African, is set to be the first Black African to go to space in 2015.

Published February 5, 2014

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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Follow Natelege Whaley on Twitter: @Natelege.

 (Photo: ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)

Written by Natelege Whaley


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