South African Man Who Was Set to Become First Black African in Space Killed in Motorcycle Accident

Mandla Maseko speaks to a journalist in Mabopane, north of Pretori, South Africa, Jan. 9, 2014.
Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images, FILE

A South African man who was expected to become the first black African in space was killed when his motorcycle was struck by a car on Saturday.

Mandla Maseko beat out a million people in 2013 to win a sub-orbital trip sponsored by the Axe Apollo Space Academy.

The 30-year-old Maseko, popularly known as “Spaceboy” and “Afronaut,” was one of 23 people who won a seat on the trip to space.

“It is with deep sadness that the Maseko family confirms that Mandla Maseko tragically passed away in a bike accident last night, July 6 2019,” his business manager and close friend Sthembile Shabangu said in a media release.

“Maseko will be sorely missed.” Shabangu said. “May Mandla Maseko’s kind and beautiful soul rest in eternal peace.”

The space flight was scheduled to be an hour-long sub-orbital trip on the Lynx Mark II spaceship. However it had not yet happened at the time of Maseko’s passing — and it’s possible that it never will, as Space.com reported that the company organizing the flight, XCOR Aerospace, went bankrupt two years ago.

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SOURCE: ABC News, Liezl Thom