Mark Shuttleworth - May 02, 2002: Madiba, Mark and Marriage - "Madiba, it is lovely to hear your voice up here"
Mark Shuttleworth was delighted to be talking to Mandela this morning and said "Madiba, it's lovely to hear your voice from up here,".
Michelle Foster, from Reach for a Dream, was flown out from Durban by the FAIS team to accompany Madiba at the live communication. Michelle, who was diagnosed with cancer two years ago told Madiba that she wanted to be an astronomer, so Madiba thought talking to Mark would be good encouragement for her.
It seemed to have worked because she promptly asked Mark to marry her! Shuttleworth said he was flattered – and looking shy, changed the subject back to space. Mandela was highly amused and presenter Derek Watts told Shuttleworth that he was clearly "not answering the question.”
Madiba sent Mark and his colleagues his greetings as well as greetings to the leaders of the other three countries represented on the ISS. Mandela went on to say that the Space Station had done much to unite the Earth’s nations.
"The International Space Station is a wonderful example of co-operation among nations, all of whom have the future of the planet at heart. More and more we realise that we are interlinked, we are all interdependent."
"Here we see six young men engaged in scientific research and exploration that will improve the quality of life on earth.”
Mark agreed, and said as a citizen of a country not involved in the building of the Space Station, that he had found watching the countries at work over the last couple of months fascinating and that it is true to say the ISS is bringing countries together.
Mark went on to say that it was very uplifting to see the Earth from up there and that he had a strong sense of how inter-connected things are and that we all share one small and fragile planet.
hope for the future."
When Madiba asked Mark what horizon he would be looking at upon his return home, Mark’s answered that looking at Africa from space was "...truly exceptional. There is much work to be done (in Africa) but I also have much hope for the future."
Mark said “ Madiba, you know better than any of us that life has an amazing way of throwing challenges at us… It is difficult to say what could be more challenging than this, but I am sure that life will have something special in store…and I must be ready to take it on when it comes.”
In answer to Michelle’s first (non-marital) question he replied that the most interesting thing he had seen in space was the Aurora Australis or Southern Lights.
“ There were these incredible blue lights shooting out of the atmosphere at almost double the height of the atmosphere… and arching towards the Space Station” That would be enough to spiritually move most people at ground-level let alone seeing it from outer-space!
Mark’s mission to space has fired the imagination and goodwill of thousands of individuals and corporations in South Africa and other parts of the world. SAA Voyager Miles have donated one million voyager miles to the Reach for a Dream Project, the organisation that helps terminally ill children reach for their dreams, something Mark can relate to.
The FAIS project felt the symmetry between Mark achieving his dream, and South African Airways flying the South African dream , PLUS the work done by the Reach for a Dream Foundation was just perfect!
We need to dream more.
In the closing discussion Madiba said that he had been struck by Mark’s humility at their previous meeting for Madiba’s clinic and school building project, and said that he had been impressed by Mark.
Madiba said that he would be very honoured if Mark would come and spend some time with an ‘old pensioner ‘.
To have Madiba’s admiration is an honour in itself.