Local lad to travel to the edge of space

January 13th, 2014, Published in Articles: EngineerIT

Mandla Maseko is the first black South African going into space after winning an Axe competition and then being selected among thousands of hopefuls to attend the Axe Apollo Space Academy (AASA), with the eventual opportunity of going into space. While at the AASA, Mandla engaged in a series of missions that gave all recruits a taste of the thrills and trials faced by real astronauts. Among the series of training missions, Mandla mastered piloting  an air combat USA aircraft,  and braced himself for the strength of blast-off in a G-force simulator at the Kennedy Space Centre.

Picture taken from

Mandla is among an international team of 23 AASA space travellers who will travel on the Lynx Mark 11 transport vehicle. The AASA team includes men and women representing countries around the globe, some of whom will make history as the first from their nations to go into space.

Mandla is from SoShanguve, Mabopane. His interest in  space started after seeing the movie Apollo13: “I was fascinated. I just want to see Earth from space!”

The Lynx is a two-seater piloted space transport vehicle which  will take humans and payloads on a half-hour suborbital flight to 100 km and then return safely to a landing at the take-off runway. Like an aircraft, Lynx is a horizontal take-off and horizontal landing vehicle, but instead of a jet or piston engine, it uses its own fully reusable rocket propulsion system to depart a runway and return safely. This approach is unique compared to most other reusable launch vechiles in development, such as conventional vertical rocket launches and air-launched winged rocket vehicles “dropped” at altitude from a jet powered mothership.

The group’s expedition in the Lynx Mark II shuttle is planned for early 2015.

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