Johannesburg: A South African who won the chance to be the first black African in space died in a motorbike accident on Saturday, before turning his dream into reality.
News of 30-year-old Mandla Maseko’s passing was shared by his family in a statement.
In 2013, the South African Air Force member beat one million entrants to win one of 23 places at a space academy in the US.
Nicknamed Afronaut and Spaceboy, Maseko described himself as a typical township boy from Pretoria.
Many of those paying tribute to Maseko on social media remembered his nicknames fondly.
He had spent a week at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida doing tests in preparation for an hour-long sub-orbital flight, originally scheduled for 2015.
Maseko said he wanted to do something that would motivate and inspire young people in Africa and prove that they could achieve anything whatever their background.