the first african in space
the crew


Please Note: Bids for the Proposal have closed - this document is historical

Mark Shuttleworth, the Internet entrepeneur who entered the public's eye with the sale of Thawte Consulting, is also destined to be the first African in space. Currently training at Star City, outside Moscow, Mark hopes to be on the April 2002 Soyuz mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Mark is training as a cosmonaut, and plans to conduct scientific experiments in space.

Mark has assembled a high-powered panel of experts amongst the academic fraternity in Africa, to supervise the scientific programme. Luminaries, such as Professors Malegapuru Makgoba, Tim Noakes, Dr. Romilla Maharaj, Professor Tony Fairall, and Professor Maartin De Wit head up the team that will assess submissions from researchers who want their experiments to be conducted on the ISS.

Table of Contents

  1. Help us do great work!
  2. Areas of Science
  3. Equipment Constraints
  4. Budget
  5. Timing

Help us do great work!

Mark is looking for proposals on experiments that can be performed during a flight in April 2002. Help choose, design and implement a world-class science program. This is an enormous opportunity for Africa, as the experiments will be performed in a $95 billion laboratory that has been specifically designed by the world's most technologically advanced nations. Many countries are working to send experiments to the to the ISS at an enormous expense to their academic communities. South Africa will get this unique opportunity to perform world-class science in this laboratory at no cost to the taxpayer. This document is a call for proposals from scientists in Africa and around the globe to suggest experiments that Mark can conduct during his flight in space.

The experiments need to be:

  1. Relevant and of direct benefit to Africa.
  2. Self-contained and simple, since they will have to be planned in a very short time. Proposals must be submitted by 28 September 2001. 
  3. Very light - all the equipment will have to fly with Mark and there are severe weight restrictions on the Soyuz. (Weight limitations - 10kg travelling up, and 5 kg on the return flight).
  4. Related to Mark's interests and skills.
  5. Capable of answering pertinent scientific questions.
  6. The results of the experiments must become part of the public domain.
  7. We will accept suggestions and work with corporate scientists, if they are willing to make the results of this research public.
  8. The experiments must take advantage of the unique environment in space.
  9. The experiment should be able to be completed within a standard Soyuz replacement mission (Six days on the ISS). 
  10. The length of time of the experiments is limited to four hours per day for eight days.
  11. All equipment has to be certified by them well in advance, and all onboard equipment has to be planned for. 
  12. Exact times and rehearsals are required, which is a hugely complex task.
  13. The length of time that it will be necessary to train Mark in the methodologies will determine the level of technical sophistication of the tests.
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
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