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Don Hampton
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Mission - Biographies

Don Hampton
Systems Engineer, Deep Impact
Don Hampton

What is the coolest thing about Deep Impact?
The fact that it is not just another flyby mission. We will actively touch the comet, modify it, and look inside the comet. This will make major advances in our understanding of comets.

Why do you like working at Ball Aerospace?
There are lots of smart and fun people. Ball is not just a "turn the bolts" aerospace company, we provide lots of critical performance and design experience for space science exploration.

How did you end up in the aerospace industry?
By combining my science background in physics, especially hands-on hardware stuff, and my strong sense of adventure (see the last question).

What do you do in your spare time?
Play piano. I play with three groups playing anything from jazz standards to grunge rock. I burned a CD last year that included my own compositions. My friends tell me they enjoy it. I also hike, backpack, and cross-country ski (when there is snow).

What is one yet-to-be achieved life goal?
Short-term, it is to be involved in building hardware that goes into space. Long-term, it is to be involved in returning to the Moon, or going to Mars.

What do you hope to learn from the Deep Impact mission?
I'm already learning the details of how to put together a flight system (instruments, spacecraft, ground system).

Who inspired you?
Carl Sagan and his Cosmos TV series. He caused me to examine my decision to be an architect, and I became a physicist instead.

Were you a science-oriented kid?
Yes, partly by default since both my parents are scientists.

What was your favorite book as a kid?
CS Lewis' Narnia books, and JRR Tolkein's, Lord of the Rings.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?
Either Lewis & Clark (well, one of them) or an astronaut, or a rock star.


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Last Updated: 28 Jun 2010