Fallen 'Afronaut' who reached for the stars was a devoted son, family man - report

2019-07-09 21:34
Mandla Maseko. (Facebook)

Mandla Maseko. (Facebook)

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The family of Mandla Maseko, 30, the first black African who would have travelled to space, remembers him as a family loving, inspirational individual who loved speaking about astronomy.

"My heart is broken, I didn't expect this so soon for my child. This pain is too deep," Maseko's mother, Ouma, told eNCA

"I will always miss my child. We were very close. They always say like father like son, but this time it was the mother: like mother like son," she said. 

Maseko, popularly known as Spaceboy and Afronaut, beat a million people to become one of 23 people to have won a seat sponsored by the Axe Apollo Space Academy in 2014, reported News24. 

He died after he was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle on Saturday.

His sister, Mantombi Maseko, told eNCA that he was "something else".

"He didn't mind telling people what astronomy is to make them understand, especially the kids," she said. 

His business manager and close friend, Sthembile Shabangu, told the broadcaster that Maseko really loved his family. 

"It's moments like this where we look around and we don't see him and it pains us more because he was actually the reason, most of the time, that the family was always together." 

A Soshanguve resident, Maseko went on to train as a private pilot and became a corporal in the SANDF, News24 reported. 

He was a member of 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.

The Guardian reported that Maseko had spent a week at the Kennedy Space Academy in Florida, where he skydived and undertook air combat and G-force training after winning a place on board the Lynx Mark II spaceship. 

While at the space academy, he met US astronaut Buzz Aldrin who was the second man to set foot on the moon after Neil Armstrong as part of the 1969 Apollo 11 space mission.

eNCA reported that he would be buried over the weekend. 

Read more on:    south africa  |  astronauts
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