The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande, has expressed shock and sadness at the passing of Mandla Maseko on Saturday, and expressed his sympathy for the inspiring young man's family, friends and colleagues.
Set to become the first black African to go into space, 30-year-old Mr Maseko was a young, vibrant role model to thousands of young people.
Mr Maseko beat a million people to secure one of 23 seats on a sub-orbital trip to space sponsored by the Axe Apollo Space Academy.
A resident of Soshanguve, north of Pretoria, Mr Maseko participated in several Department of Science and Technology events, including Space Week.
"Passionate about education, Mr Maseko worked hard to encourage learners to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics," said the Minister.
The Minister added that Mr Maseko had not allowed his humble beginnings to limit his dreams to travel to space.
"For many this would be unthinkable, but for Mr Maseko it was an attainable dream, which he worked for. "
His passing is a sad loss for South Africa.
Source: Department: Science and Technology