TAMPA - A 43-year-old self-employed Tampa man has made it past the first hurdle in a selection process to potentially choose the first team to attempt not only a manned mission to the planet Mars, but its colonization.
Hampton Black, a former NASA employee, received an email in December telling him that he is one of 1,058 finalists who could potentially be a part of the "Mars One" mission. "Mars One" is an organization seeking crowd-funding for an effort to land humans on Mars in 2025. The mission would be a one-way trip.
"My heart is there, you know? I want to be a part of this mission," Black said.
In comparison to planet Earth, Mars is far from hospitable. Frequent sub-zero temperatures, radiation, and an unbreathable atmosphere would be just a few of the challenges facing astronauts who would seek to live on the red planet.
Black said the mission is for the good of all humanity. He maintained the Earth should not be the human race's only home.
"We just commit ourselves to this one planet, and this planet only? We're not going to be around here too much longer," said Black.
Ann Marie Slavik, Black's girlfriend, said she supports his goal of relocating permanently to Mars.
"If he should go, of course I would be sad, but it's not my style to stand in front of somebody's dream," she said.
To learn more about the "Mars One" organization, visit http://www.mars-one.com .