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Franklin Chang-Díaz

Franklin Chang-Díaz
Chang-Díaz in 1997
Franklin Ramón Chang-Díaz

(1950-04-05) April 5, 1950 (age 73)
EducationUniversity of Connecticut (BS)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MS, ScD)
Space career
NASA astronaut
Time in space
66d 18h 16m
SelectionNASA Group 9 (1980)
Mission insignia

Franklin Ramón Chang-Díaz (born April 5, 1950, San José, Costa Rica)[1] is an American mechanical engineer, physicist and former NASA astronaut. He is the sole founder and CEO of Ad Astra Rocket Company[2] as well as a member of Cummins' board of directors.[3] He became an American citizen in 1977.[4]

He is a veteran of seven Space Shuttle missions, tying the record, as of 2021 for the most spaceflights (a record set by Jerry L. Ross). He was the third Latin American, but the first Latin American immigrant NASA Astronaut selected to go into space.[5] Chang-Díaz is a member of the NASA Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Family and education

Franklin Ramón Chang-Díaz was born in San José, Costa Rica on April 5, 1950, to Ramón Ángel Chang Morales, an oil worker whose own father fled China during the Boxer Rebellion,[6] and María Eugenia Díaz. One of six children, he has a younger sister, Sonia Rosa (born December 1952) and his mother, brothers and sisters still reside in Costa Rica.[7] His two eldest daughters with his ex-wife Candice Chang, include Sonia Rosa, who is a member of the Massachusetts Senate.[8][9] He married in the United States, on December 17, 1984, Dr. Peggy Marguerite Doncaster (née Stafford, of Alexandria, Louisiana), with whom he has two daughters,[10] both born in Houston, Texas.[11][12][13][7]

He graduated from Colegio de La Salle in San Jose with an "A" in November 1967, then moved to the United States to finish his high school education at Hartford Public High School in Connecticut, in 1969.[7] He went on to attend the University of Connecticut, where he earned a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering and joined the federal TRIO Student Support Services program in 1973.[14] He then attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he earned a Ph.D. degree in applied plasma physics in 1977.[14] For his graduate research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Chang-Díaz worked in the field of fusion technology and plasma-based rocket propulsion.[4]

NASA career

Chang-Díaz was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1980 and first flew aboard Space Shuttle mission STS-61-C in 1986. Subsequent missions included STS-34 (1989), STS-46 (1992), STS-60 (1994), STS-75 (1996), STS-91 (1998), and STS-111 (2002). During STS-111, he performed three extravehicular activities (EVAs) with Philippe Perrin as part of the construction of the International Space Station (ISS). He was also director of the Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center from 1993 to 2005. Chang-Díaz retired from NASA in 2005.[4]

Post-NASA career

Dr. Chang with students during the filming of Odyssey 2050 The Movie at Ad Astra Rocket Company, 2010.

After leaving NASA, Chang-Díaz set up the Ad Astra Rocket Company, which became dedicated to the development of advanced plasma rocket propulsion technology. Years of research and development have produced the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR), an electrical propulsion device for use in space.[15] With a flexible mode of operation, the rocket can achieve very high exhaust speeds, and with a sufficiently powerful electrical supply even has the theoretical capability to take a crewed rocket to Mars in 39 days.[16]

Chang-Díaz also is active in environmental protection and raising awareness about climate change, notably in his role in Odyssey 2050 The Movie in which he encourages young people to get motivated about environmental issues.[17]

In addition, Chang-Díaz is an adjunct professor in physics and astronomy at Rice University.[18] He has been on the board of directors of Cummins since December 8, 2009.[19]

He is also the father of Democratic candidate for the 2022 Massachusetts gubernatorial election Sonia Chang-Díaz.

Awards and honors

In 1986, Franklin Chang-Díaz was one of twelve recipients of the Medal of Liberty. He was inducted into the NASA Astronaut Hall of Fame on May 5, 2012[20] in a ceremony that took place in the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Also, due to his career and scientific success, he has been decorated multiple times in Costa Rica and named Honor Citizen by the national legislature.[7] The Costa Rican National High Technology Center (CeNAT), among other institutions, is named after him.[21] In 2014, Chang-Díaz was awarded the "Buzz Aldrin Quadrennial Space Award" by The Explorers Club. Buzz Aldrin, whom Chang-Díaz called a childhood hero, presented the award.[22]

See also


  1. ^ "Chang-Díaz, Franklin". Current Biography Yearbook 2011. Ipswich, MA: H.W. Wilson. 2011. pp. 121–124. ISBN 9780824211219.
  2. ^ "Board of Directors". Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  3. ^ "Board of Directors". Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Franklin Chang-Diaz: Astronaut and Rocket Scientist". PBS. Archived from the original on November 15, 2007. Retrieved January 12, 2010.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link), Wired Science, November 14, 2007
  5. ^ NOVA Science Now. "Profile: Franklin Chang-Diaz". PBS. Retrieved April 21, 2011. The first Latin American to go into space was Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez from Cuba in 1980 (through the Soviet Union) and second was Rodolfo Neri Vela from Mexico in 1985.
  6. ^ Chang-Díaz, Franklin R.: 1950—: Astronaut, Physicist Retrieved: May 5, 2012
  7. ^ a b c d "Biographical data: FRANKLIN R. CHANG-DÍAZ (PH.D.) NASA ASTRONAUT (FORMER)" (PDF). NASA. September 2012. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  8. ^ "Sonia Chang-Diaz grabs Senate seat -". Boston Herald. November 5, 2008. Archived from the original on September 10, 2012. Retrieved November 8, 2006.
  9. ^ Drake, John C. (September 17, 2008). "A Senate fixture toppled: Chang-Díaz defeats embattled Wilkerson in primary". Boston Globe. Retrieved November 8, 2008.
  10. ^ Dr. Franklin R. Chang-Diaz – Keynote Speaker Archived March 29, 2012, at the Wayback Machine Babson. Retrieved: May 5, 2012
  11. ^ Consultas de hechos y actos civiles y electorales Archived May 10, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones. Retrieved: May 5, 2012 (in Spanish)
  12. ^ La familia Díaz de San José La Nación. Retrieved: May 5, 2012 (in Spanish)
  13. ^ Space Shuttle Mission STS-75 Press Kit Archived October 8, 2021, at the Wayback Machine NASA February 1996
  14. ^ a b Spacefacts Biography of Franklin Chang-Diaz Spacefacts Retrieved July 18, 2011
  15. ^ "NASA - Propulsion Systems of the Future". NASA. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
  16. ^ Billings, Lee (September 29, 2009). "Former astronaut Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz explains how his plasma rocket engine could revolutionize space travel and why we need nuclear power in space". Seed Media Group. Archived from the original on December 29, 2016. Retrieved January 10, 2016.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  17. ^ Whelan, Ben. "Odyssey 2050". British Embassy Costa Rica. Archived from the original on June 21, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  18. ^ "Franklin Chang-Diaz". Faculty Information System. Rice University. Archived from the original on February 13, 2023. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  19. ^ " > News Article". December 8, 2009. Archived from the original on May 9, 2017. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  20. ^ "Collect Space". Collect Space. May 6, 2012. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
  21. ^ Address: Building Dr. Franklin Chang Diaz, 1.3 km, North American Embajada Pavas, San Jose, Costa Rica Archived October 4, 2018, at the Wayback Machine Centro Nacional de Alta de Tecnología (CeNAT), 2011
  22. ^ "Grupo científico mundial premia a Franklin Chang". La Nacion. March 18, 2014. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
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Franklin Chang-Díaz
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