the first african in space
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News from the front line

Captain's log

Mark Shuttleworth - June 10, 2002: Parade a crowd-puller - Thousands of people gathered in Heerengracht and Adderley Streets in Cape Town to welcome Mark Shuttleworth home after his historic mission.

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Photo of the Day: Honouring Gagarin
Following tradition, the Soyuz crew places flowers at the graves of Yuri Gagarin and the four cosmonauts who have died in pursuit of man's exploration of space.
Click here to download First African in Space mobile phone logos.

About the First African in Space Project

What is the First African in Space project?
In April 2002, a citizen of an African country launched into space and journeyed to the International Space Station. This website is your guide to the mission, to the science experiments that South African scientists designed for, to the diary of a cosmonaut-in-training, to the personal stories of the team members who made it all a success. Check our galleries of project images, read the logs of our team members and follow the rollout of space-related educational materials in SA.

Who had the lucky job of Afro-astronaut?
Our intrepid cosmonaut candidate was Mark Shuttleworth, who underwent several months of intensive training at Star City in Russia. Born and raised in South Africa, Mark surprised everyone (including himself) with his good fortune during the Internet boom in 1999. Since then he has launched HBD ("Here Be Dragons"), a South African venture capital company, as well as TSF, a non-profit foundation focused on innovation in African education. He currently lives in London, and is committed to seeking out new opportunities in technology and society, but has absolutely no idea which project will follow the First African in Space project. Mark has dreamt of space travel since he was old enough to say "cosmonaut" and has had to pinch himself to know this was for real.

So why call Mark's mission a "project"?
Because it's just that. Mark's journey to the International Space Station was not only a personal dream come true. He conducted a number of scientific experiments designed by South African scientists - thus making previously inaccessible space research available to the African scientific community. On the ground, the First African in Space team is using his trip as a springboard for an education-outreach programme, which aims to encourage learners to embrace mathematics and science.

Click on MORE-> to have additional questions answered on the FAQ page.

Mark conducted several experiments during his 10-day space flight. One experiment was the very first in the world to assess the impact of zero-gravity on the development of stem cells and embryos. Another was to determine the effect of microgravity on the cardiovascular system and muscles. A third was an attempt to crystallise HIV proteins in weightlessness in the hopes that, when X-rayed, they will give an accurate view of the virus structure. These experiments are being managed by world-class South African scientists from the Universities of Cape Town, Stellenbosch and Port Elizabeth, in collaboration with Russian space-science experts.

Click on MORE-> for details on the science experiments Mark will be conducting.

The FAIS team planned a conference for maths and science teachers from key South African schools in early April. The conference aim was to give the teachers the knowledge, tools and much-needed encouragement to make maths and science interesting for their learners, as part of the Department of Education's National Strategy for Science and Mathematics. Also, watch out or educational materials in the national media, produced with the wonderful help of NASA.

Click on MORE-> for details on the Education Outreach Programme.

Logs and News

News: Hip2B2 Roadshow
posted on August 29, 2002
fais project

The Hip2B2 Roadshow gets under way on 2 September, and will see Mark touring South African schools until to 5 October 2002. Visit for more info!

News: Roadshow entries closed
posted on July 02, 2002
fais project

We have closed the entries for Mark's school roadshow, which will take place over six weeks from early September to mid-October. The selection process is currently under way, and we will be contacting the lucky schools in due course.

Logs: Ticker-tape parade today
posted on June 09, 2002
log entries (1)

Mark Shuttleworth: Live music, circus performers, praise singers and cement handprints will make today’s Adderley Street ticker-tape parade, in honour of Mark Shuttleworth and his fellow crewmates, an event to remember.
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News: Eye on science
posted on June 04, 2002

The scientists involved with the stem cell, protein crystal and physiological experiments Mark conducted on the ISS are in the process of collating and analysing data, and should have preliminary results within the next few weeks. Source: IOL

News: Mark and Mbeki get moving
posted on June 03, 2002
fais project

Mark celebrated his return to South Africa by dancing with President Thabo Mbeki, signing autographs and meeting members of the public at a hitech reception in his honour in Pretoria. Source: IOL

News: Back to Earth with a bump
posted on June 03, 2002
fais project

Shortly before his return to South Africa, Mark spoke to the Sunday Times about coming back down to Earth in the Soyuz capsule – and the importance of experiencing an event rather than recording it. Source: Sunday Times
Read more…

Logs: The Afronaut has landed
posted on June 02, 2002
log entries (1)

Mark Shuttleworth: Mark Shuttleworth landed in South Africa on Sunday after a short post-mission holiday with his parents in Ireland. He will spend a week in Durban before flying on to Cape Town, where he will receive a ticker-tape parade through the city centre.
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News: Passed away
posted on May 27, 2002
fais project

Michelle Foster, the 14-year-old girl who sat on Nelson Mandela's knee and asked Mark to marry her during a live video link-up to the ISS, has passed away.

The First African in Space Team would like to express their deepest condolences to Michelle's family.

Click here for IOL's report on her death.

Landing Countdown to 05:51 05 May

Landing Complete!

The Team
Mark Shuttleworth
Dale Cupido
Karen Sharwood
Lara Keytel
Danie Barry
Freddy Khan
Vaughan Oosthuizen
Ravi Naidoo
Vuyo Dwane
Richard Mills
Nicolette Cronje
Wayne Derman
Peter Ribton
On-board schedule
Timeline summary
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Church of Jesus Christ

Zero-G Heart Rate Data

Next-generation Soyuz TMA Cockpit

Mig-25 Afterburners