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Tampa man, Hampton Black, a finalist for Mars trip

1:55 PM, Jan 8, 2014   |    comments
Planet Mars with north and south polar caps (Photo courtesy of AP Graphics)
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TAMPA, Fla. -- Hampton Black found out in an email, a dream come true for the space enthusiast who longed for out-of-this-world exploration since he was a child.

He smiled as he read the email aloud, "Dear Mr. Black, you and 1,057 other astronauts around the globe have been pre-selected to launch the dawn of a new era, human life on Mars. Congratulations, you have made it to the next round."

Hampton applied to be a part of the Mars One project, where a team of up to 40 people will travel to the Red Planet to colonize it.

And, as part of his application, Hampton sent in a Star Wars video where he appears as Han Solo, an ode to his all-time favorite movie.

Turns out, his background, his resume and his unique video was exactly what the Mars One organizers were looking for - Hampton made the cut out of 200,000 people.

"I was overwhelmed with joy, I had some family and friends here when I opened up the email, bunch of high fives, very exciting," Hampton told 10 News.

The 43-year-old former NASA employee has a background in aerospace engineering and space studies. He says he's willing to leave his family, his children and friends behind to be a part of history.

We asked, "What would you tell people if they say 'You're crazy; why would you want to do that?'"

With a grin he said, "I think it's part of the benefit of all mankind, to be a multi-planetary species. We have the technology, it's time to do it."

What about the risk of death? It takes seven months, he says, to get there. And, there's no guarantees the team will ever make it.

"You could die crossing the street here. You can die leaving your house and getting into a car accident. There are risks in life. This one is worth it," Hampton says.

The launch date would be 2024 with more than a decade of training and psychological testing.

He added, "This mission is a gateway to fulfilling mankind's dream of expansion into space!"

So, what about people who are not space enthusiasts, or even those who don't have a background in space studies or engineering? Who would make the perfect Mars One team member?

"They said [a space background] wasn't completely necessary because they are really looking for people who can get along with one another. After all, we will be together forever," Hampton explained.

The conditions are harsh on Mars, Hampton told us.

"It is not good for humans. It's bitter cold, no oxygen. Just Carbon Dioxide. We will have to bring our own life support systems. And, back-up systems."

But, he says, he's ready to make history and move to outer space.

"We were meant for this mission."


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