SA 'Axe-tronauts' to head to the US

2013-08-19 14:05
This is a model of the space ship that will transport the astronauts to low Earth orbit. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

This is a model of the space ship that will transport the astronauts to low Earth orbit. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Space XC ship

2013-06-07 09:14

The Space XC ship that will take Axe competition winners to space is illustrated in this YouTube video.WATCH

Johannesburg - Unilever has announced the names of the South African finalists, one of which is guaranteed a place on a trip to space.

The final three South Africans who will head to the US are Mandla Maskeko, Haroon Osman and Dean Roddan as part of the company's Axe brand activation.

At the Axe Apollo Space Academy in Orlando, the candidates, dubbed "Axe-tronauts" will be tested for space fitness with a variety of high G-force activities.

Space Expedition Corporation will conduct low Earth orbits in 2014 using the Lynx space craft developed by XCOR.

The vehicle will take off much like a regular aeroplane, but it is equipped with four rocket engines that propel the craft to Mach 3 in around three minutes.

At 60km up, the pilot will cut the engines to allow the craft to reach its maximum height of 103km. The occupants will see the curvature of the Earth and experience weightlessness for a few minutes.

Once the ship begins its glide back to the surface, the passengers will experience 4.5G for around 15 seconds when the pilot does a pull up manoeuvre to slow the Lynx down before landing.

Maskeko (24) hails from Benoni and lists Nelson Mandela as his hero, while adventure junkie Osman (37) is a fan of local DJ, Roger Goode. Flight simulation maintenance engineer Roddan (41) said he didn't initially take the call to Space Camp seriously.

The three South Africans will head to Florida in the US for a series of exercises where they will be joined by entrants from 75 countries.

Eventually, 22 will be chosen to make the trip to space.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
Read more on:    unilever  |  space

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