Quotes: MENA   Enter Symbol: NewsLetter: Search: advanced

South African set to be first black 'Afronaut'  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - Arab News - 22/01/2014
No. of Ratings : 0
Add to Mixx!



(MENAFN -Arab News) No one in Mandla Maseko’s family has ever stepped outside South Africa, but the young township DJ is set to rocket into space next year

From the dusty district of Mabopane, near Pretoria, 25-year-old Maseko has landed a coveted seat to fly 103-kms into space in 2015, after winning a competition organized by a US-based space academy

He beat off a million other entrants from 75 countries to be selected as one of 23 people who will travel on an hour-long sub-orbital trip on the Lynx Mark II spaceship

The former civil engineering student — who was forced to put his studies on hold because he could not pay the fees --will experience zero gravity and a journey that normally comes with a 100,000 price tag

Unless a rich black African books a tourist space ticket and blasts off before next year, Maseko will become the first black African to enter space

The “typical township boy,” who still lives at home with his parents and four siblings, was named one of the winners on December 5, only a few hours after the death of the country’s first black president, Nelson Mandela

He said he immediately thought of such “firsts,” not only Mandela but also Barack Obama, the first black president of the United States

In his exhilaration, he also imagined a conversation with Mandela

“I have run the race and completed the course, now here is the torch’, ” Maseko thought the president would have told him. ” ‘Continue running the race and here’s the title to go with it, go be the first black South African to space’.

His improbable journey from a middle-class township to the thermosphere began with a leap from a wall

The initial entry requirement for the competitors was to submit a photograph of themselves jumping from any height

His first choice was the roof of his parents’ three-bedroom house but his mother Ouma said “no,” fearing it was too high and that he would break his legs

He settled for the house’s two-meter perimeter wall and a friend captured the feat using a mobile phone

The picture has helped propel Maseko, who works part-time as a DJ at parties, to new heights

He finally secured his seat on the rocket after gruelling physical and aptitude tests in the contest organized by AXE Apollo Space Academy and sponsored by Unilever and space tourism firm Space Expedition Corporation (SXC)

It was a dream come true for a man from a humble background

His family says they never doubted the one-time altar boy at a local Anglican church, who now sings with a local township gospel choir, would be a high-flier

“While I was pregnant with Mandla, I knew I was going to give birth to a star,” said Maseko’s mother

His 18-year-old sister Mhlophe agrees: “I don’t know what comes after space. I’m sure if there was something he would go.

Born to a school cleaner and an auto tool maker in Soshanguve township near Pretoria, Maseko has neighbors high-fiving him for putting South Africa’s townships on the “galactic map.



His long-term plans are to study aeronautical engineering and qualify as a space mission specialist with the ultimate dream of planting the South African flag on the moon

South Africa’s Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom sees Maseko “as a role model to the future generation of space professionals and enthusiasts.

His experience could not have come at a better time “when Africa is gearing up its space ambitions” as host to the world’s biggest and most powerful radio astronomy telescope, said Hanekom

The director of that project, Bernie Fanaroff, also hailed young Maseko as an ambassador for science

“Anything that raises the profile of science up there must be good because it brings to the attention of young people what they can achieve in science and engineering.

Curious young neighbors often stop Maseko’s 13-year-old sister Mantombi on her way home from school and ask, “What is space? what is space?

“A very unique place,” she tells them. “Space is a very special place.

Maseko spent a week at the Kennedy Space Academy in Florida where he skydived and undertook air combat and G-force training

While there he met and posed for pictures with US astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who was the second man ever to set foot on the moon after Neil Armstrong as part of the 1969 Apollo 11 space mission

For Maseko, the encounter was magical

“This is how it feels to be out in space,” he recalls thinking.


 


Arab News




  MENA News Headlines
 Dec 25 2014 - Kuwait's KNPC to increase natural gas capacityMENAFN
(MENAFN) Kuwait National Petroleum Company announced that it will raise its natural gas production capacity to more than two billion cubic feet a day after commissioning a new plant in the country, ...

 Dec 25 2014 - Iraqi Prime Minister Heads to TurkeyQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) Iraqi prime minister Haider Abadi began Thursday morning a two-day official visit to Turkey. During the visit, Abadi will hold talks with Turkish officials on means of developing ...

 Dec 25 2014 - Turkey Condemns Deadly Explosion in BaghdadQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) Turkey has condemned an explosion in the Iraqi capital Baghdad that killed around 50 people on Wednesday. "We strongly condemn this reprehensible attack that targeted Iraq's ...

 Dec 25 2014 - Saudi projects huge deficit as oil price drop bitesAFP
(MENAFN - AFP) Saudi Arabia announced a 2015 budget with a huge deficit Thursday as the world's largest crude exporter begins to feel the impact of its own decision not to shore up oil prices. The ...

 Dec 25 2014 - Abraaj, Kellogg bidding war continues for Egypt's Bisco MisrMENAFN
(MENAFN) The bidding war between UAE's Abraaj and Kellogg Co, the world's largest breakfast cereal maker, continues to intensify to acquire the USD144 million worth Egyptian snack maker Bisco Misr as ...

 Dec 25 2014 - Qatar's beIN to buy USD820m stake in Turkish TVMENAFN
(MENAFN) Qatar's beIN Media Group, which runs beIN Sports, announced it has agreed to pay USD820 million for the acquisition of 53 percent of Turkish pay-TV giant Digiturk, Arabian Business ...

 Dec 25 2014 - Arab region to invest USD356b on power projectsMENAFN
(MENAFN) According to a new study by Kuwaiti-based Arab fund for economic and social development (AFESD), Arab states will need to pay nearly USD356 billion in investments for the construction of ...

 Dec 25 2014 - Summary of Local News ReleasedWednesday - 1-Qatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) - Trading volume of real estate last week December 14-17 was worth in excess of QR 567 million, the Real Estate Registration and Authentication Department at the Ministry of Justice ...

 Dec 25 2014 - Zionist soldiers gun down Hamas fighterArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) GAZA CITY: Israel launched an airstrike in southern Gaza on Wednesday and killed a Hamas man.Palestinian medical sources said Tayseer Al-Ismary 33 was killed 'as a result of ...

 Dec 25 2014 - 'IS responsible for pilot's safety'Arab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) AMMAN: Islamic State fighters took a Jordanian pilot captive after his warplane came down in northeast Syria on Wednesday the first captive taken from the US-led coalition ...

more...


 






Google

Click to Apply

 
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

MENAFN News Market Data Countries Tools Section  
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network
Arabic MENAFN

Main News
News By Industry
News By Country

Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

Commodoties

Oil & Energy

Currencies Cross Rates
Currencies Updates
Currency Converter

USA Stocks
Arab Stocks
 

Algeria 
Bahrain 
Egypt 
Iraq
Jordan 
Kuwait 
Lebanon
Morocco 
Oman 
Palestine
Qatar 
Saudi Arabia 
Syria
Tunisia 
UAE 
Yemen

Weather
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary


Financial Calculators

RSS Feeds [XML]

Corporate Monitor

Events

Real Estate
Submit Your Property

Arab Research
Buy a Research

Press Releases
Submit your PR

Join Newsletters


 
© 2014 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help