Proudly posing in aviator shades and a bright orange jumpsuit, Mandla Maseko cut a relaxed cool image as he contemplated becoming the first black African to travel into space.
But five years after the photoshoot, his dream of making history has tragically ended after a bike crash ended his life aged just 30.
The South African had earned the nickname 'Afronaut' after he beat more than a million other entrants to win one of 23 coveted seats on a US space academy flight into space in 2013.
Mr Maseko enjoyed a week at Florida's Kennedy Space Academy in Florida - including air combat and G-force training - and met the first men to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
But the 103km (64 mile) flight into space, originally planned for 2015, was delayed and still to be rescheduled at the time of his death.
The son of a school cleaner and car tool maker was born in a township in Soshanguve, near Pretoria, the AFP news agency reported.
His unlikely route to astronaut training saw him celebrated in South Africa, where his death sparked messages of grief and tributes.
His family confirmed on Sunday he had died in a motorbike accident on Saturday.