Pretoria - Tributes are pouring in for Mandla Maseko, who was on track to become the first black African in space. Maseko died in a motorcycle accident on Saturday night.
On Sunday, as news of Maseko's death became public, social media users expressed sadness at the loss of a young man who they said inspired hope and optimism.
My dearest friend ❤️
My sister’s closest friend ❤️
My nephew’s godfather ❤️
— SheIsWinning 🇿🇦 (@Miss_Molebo) July 7, 2019
He was going to be the first BLACK MAN to go on Space! Unfortunately heaven couldn't wait for him. 😭😭😭😭💔💔💔💔 I'm shattered! Rest Easy Big Bro I Love You! Lala Kahle Ncamane😭😭😭😭😭 #MandlaMaseko pic.twitter.com/cD8MLmsSK1
— Lerato Botle ❤ (@_LiraRae) July 7, 2019
Heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Mandla Maseko! Having had the honour of meeting him I can't imagine the sense of loss they must feel. May they find comfort in the legacy and inspiration he left behind. 🙏🏾
— 📺 Katlego 📺 (@KatlegoMaboe) July 8, 2019
I don't think we fully comprehend how big a loss to the to the entire world the passing of #MandlaMaseko is. I really don't. Can you imagine what that man would have done? would have inspired others to do? No man :(
— #SendHotwings🍗 (@JasonMcCall01) July 8, 2019
— Thandile ka Vuntu (@vuntu) July 7, 2019
Your kindness,your amazing smile your selflessness will be remembered 😭😭 since I received the news this morning am not coping you took your last ride with Nondalo yesterday ❤️
— goitseona ngubeni (@Geepeengubs) July 7, 2019
— MyNtombi (@MyNtombi) July 7, 2019
"Maseko - popularly known as Spaceboy and Afronaut - beat 1 million people to become one of 23 people who won a seat sponsored by the Axe Apollo Space Academy on an hour-long suborbital trip in 2014," his family said in a statement on Sunday.
However, the trip had not yet happened at the time of his death.
"Maseko, 30, a Soshanguve native, went on to train as a private pilot and became a corporal in the South African National Defence Force [SANDF]," the family statement said.
"As a public speaker and community worker, Maseko worked to inspire many African children to pursue careers in science. His community work saw him join the Corsa Utility Club Mzansi. [He was] An avid biker with the Tshwane Legend Bikers."
In 2016 he was honored by the Gauteng education department and had the science building at the Curtis Nkondo School of Specialisation named after him.
"Maseko will be solely missed. May Mandla Maseko’s kind and beautiful soul rest In eternal peace," the family said.
Details of his memorial service and funeral would be announced during the course of this week.