Mark Shuttleworth spoke to South African President Thabo Mbeki, who was celebrating Freedom Day on Saturday in Bloemfontein, via a live satellite link-up from the International Space Station early on Saturday.
The 10-minute conversation started with Mbeki saying to Mark: “Yes, ambassador, how are you?” He went on to praise the First African in Space for his contributions to science and the African Renaissance.
Mark told the president that the mission so far was exciting, adding that the flight had gone off without a hitch and that everything was going according to plan. He even had good words for the food in space, showing Mbeki an empty tin of what he had eaten for lunch – pork and potato.
"I have had moments of terror and moments of sheer exhilaration," said Mark. "I have never seen anything as beautiful as Earth from space. I cannot imagine anything as beautiful as that."
Mark commented on the beautiful sunset and sunrise he had seen over Africa. Mbeki asked him to bring pictures “so that we can know what we look like to you from up there”.
Mbeki further commended Mark for his efforts, saying they will help inspire South Africa’s youth to pursue studies in engineering, mathematics and science. He ended off by toasting Mark with a glass of bubbly, saying: “I am sure this will go down in our history as one of those moments when we made quite a leap forward.”