By Lebo Tshangela
JOHANNESBURG, Jan 15 (NNN-SABC) — The first black South African to head into space, Mandla Maseko, will start training and preparing for his space expedition in September in the United States ahead of his launch later in the year.
Twenty six-year-old Maseko is one of 23 people who won an hour-long sub-orbital trip aboard a Lynx Mark II shuttle in 2013. He beat one million other entrants in the Lynx Apollo Space Academy competition.
Six to eight weeks prior to his space adventure, the future generation astronaut and recently qualified private pilot, will be facing some additional training.
Born and bred in the Mabopane and Soshanguve townships in Pretoria, Maseko will be the second South African in space following Mark Shuttleworth who spent eight days on board the International Space Station in 2002.
Maseko, a former civil engineering student, is the son of a toolmaker and cleaning supervisor. He is the eldest of five siblings, from a family of seven. He dropped out of university for lack of funds.
In order to win the prize, he had to compete in challenges such as skydiving, plane stunts and the vomit comet at home and the air flight simulation and air combat courses at a space camp in Orlando, Florida.
Speaking to the South Africam Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), Maseko says he is crossing his fingers that there will not be any delay.