Franklin Chang Díaz

Franklin Chang Díaz - Former Nasa Astronaut, Family and Childhood

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Franklin Chang Díaz's Personal Details

Franklin Chang-Diaz is an American-Costa Rican physicist and former NASA astronaut

InformationDetail
BirthdayApril 5, 1950
NationalityChinese, Costa Rican, American
FamousMassachusetts Institute Of Technology, Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, Physicists, Astronauts, Former Nasa Astronaut
SpousesPeggy Marguerite Doncaster
SiblingsSonia Rosa Chang-Díaz
Known asFranklin Ramón Chang Díaz
ChildrensJean Elizabeth Chang-Díaz, Lidia Aurora Chang-Díaz, Miranda Karina Chang-Díaz, Sonia Chang-Díaz
Universities
  • Massachusetts Institute Of Technology (MIT)
  • 1969 - Hartford Public High School
  • 1973 - University of Connecticut
  • 1977 - Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Notable Alumnis
  • Massachusetts Institute Of Technology (MIT)
Founder / Co-Founder
  • Ad Astra Rocket Company
Birth PlaceSan José
GenderMale
FatherRamón Angel Chang Morales
MotherMaría Eugenia Díaz Romero
Sun SignAries
Born inSan José
Famous asFormer NASA Astronaut

Franklin Chang Díaz's photo

Who is Franklin Chang Díaz?

Franklin Chang-Diaz is a physicist and former NASA astronaut. He was enamored by the idea of becoming an astronaut since childhood. As a teenager, he moved to the United States to pursue that dream and, once assimilated to life in the U.S., started his college career. He experienced some difficulty early in his education because he was not a citizen of the U.S., but he overcame those obstacles and attended college. He majored in mechanical engineering and did his post doctorate work in plasma physics. While conducting postgraduate research in nuclear fusion, he applied to NASA to become a part of the astronaut program. They accepted him and, despite being a scientist and not a member of the military as most astronauts once were, he went on to become one of the most-flown astronauts in the program. He completed seven missions to space, the last of which was to repair parts of the International Space Station in 2002. He worked for NASA up until 2005 when he retired, after receiving several awards from NASA for his work. He then established his own company where he has pursued research on engineering space shuttles for faster and more efficient travel. He is also an activist on climate change awareness.

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Childhood & Early Life

Franklin Ramón Chang-Diaz was born on April 5, 1950 in San José, Costa Rica, and is one of six children. His father was Chinese and his mother Costa Rican.

His interest in space began at an early age and he believed strongly that the only way he would realize that dream is by moving to the United States. After finishing high school in the late 1960s, with his family's support, he left Costa Rica for the United States to pursue that dream.

He moved to Hartford, Connecticut, with his uncle. He did not know English so he enrolled in high school there to transition into the U.S. education system.

He experienced some challenges because he was not a U.S. citizen. He had been offered a scholarship to the University of Connecticut but was ineligible to receive it due to his citizenship status. A petition was raised and he was eventually allowed to receive one year of the scholarship and the in-state tuition rate.

In 1969, he attended the University of Connecticut and earned an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering.

He went on to acquire postgraduate degree at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and acquired his doctorate in plasma physics.

Career

When NASA's space program picked back up in 1977, they made a request for astronaut candidates. Chang-Diaz applied and was selected in 1980. At the time, he was studying nuclear fusion.

Again, he faced adversity because he was a scientist. At that point, military personnel typically went on space missions and the scientists engineered the rockets. However, six years after he was selected, he flew aboard the Columbia in mission STS-61-C in 1986. This was the first of seven missions he would fly.

He was originally charted to fly in the ill-fated Challenger mission in 1986. The disaster was a sobering experience for him and his colleagues. His second mission in 1992 took on a new seriousness in the light of the tragedy.

In 1993, he became the director of the Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory at the John Space Center.

In total, he completed seven space missions. The other five missions were STS-60 (1994), STS-75 (1996), STS-91 (1998), and STS-111 (2002).

On his 2002 mission on the ship Endeavor, he worked on the International Space Station and participated in three spacewalks during that assignment.

He retired from NASA in 2005 and set up the Ad Astra Rocket Company which is currently working on the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) which he believes will revolutionize space travel by allowing further excursions in less time and round trip travel.

He also became a part of Rice University's faculty, serving as Adjunct Professor in Physics and Astronomy.

Major Works

He wrote 'Dream's Journey' which is an autobiographical account of the transitional time after he moved to the United States from Costa Rica.

'The First Years' is the first of three books in an autobiographical trilogy he is writing. This first part explores his years as a child in Costa Rica.

Awards & Achievements

He was awarded the Medal of Liberty from President Ronald Reagan in 1986 for his distinguished service to NASA as a naturalized citizen of the United States.

He has received several awards from the Costa Rican government honoring his work.

NASA awarded him the NASA Exceptional Service Medals in 1988, 1990 and 1993.

He also received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal twice in 1995 and 1997.

He became a member of the NASA Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2012 for his exemplary contributions to space research.

He received the The Explorers Club's 2014 Buzz Aldrin Quadrennial Space Award for his work on the VASMIR.

Personal Life & Legacy

Chang-Diaz is married to Peggy Marguerite Doncaster and has four children.

He was the first Costa Rican Hispanic astronaut to go into space.

He is an advocate for environmental protection and had a part in the movie 'Odyssey 2050' which encouraged action on climate change.

Trivia

He is often referred to as Spanish American, but Chang-Diaz emphasizes that is an incomplete picture of his heritage because his father was Chinese.

He is a dual citizen of the United States and Costa Rica.

He was originally scheduled to be a part of the Challenger mission in 1986.

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Franklin Chang Díaz biography timelines

  • // 5th Apr 1950
    Franklin Ramón Chang-Diaz was born on April 5, 1950 in San José, Costa Rica, and is one of six children. His father was Chinese and his mother Costa Rican.
  • // 1969
    In 1969, he attended the University of Connecticut and earned an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering.
  • // 1977 To 1980
    When NASA's space program picked back up in 1977, they made a request for astronaut candidates. Chang-Diaz applied and was selected in 1980. At the time, he was studying nuclear fusion.
  • // 1986
    Again, he faced adversity because he was a scientist. At that point, military personnel typically went on space missions and the scientists engineered the rockets. However, six years after he was selected, he flew aboard the Columbia in mission STS-61-C in 1986. This was the first of seven missions he would fly.
  • // 1986 To 1992
    He was originally charted to fly in the ill-fated Challenger mission in 1986. The disaster was a sobering experience for him and his colleagues. His second mission in 1992 took on a new seriousness in the light of the tragedy.
  • // 1986
    He was awarded the Medal of Liberty from President Ronald Reagan in 1986 for his distinguished service to NASA as a naturalized citizen of the United States.
  • // 1986
    He was originally scheduled to be a part of the Challenger mission in 1986.
  • // 1993
    In 1993, he became the director of the Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory at the John Space Center.
  • // 1995 To 1997
    He also received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal twice in 1995 and 1997.
  • // 2002
    On his 2002 mission on the ship Endeavor, he worked on the International Space Station and participated in three spacewalks during that assignment.
  • // 2005
    He retired from NASA in 2005 and set up the Ad Astra Rocket Company which is currently working on the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) which he believes will revolutionize space travel by allowing further excursions in less time and round trip travel.
  • // 2012
    He became a member of the NASA Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2012 for his exemplary contributions to space research.
  • // 2014
    He received the The Explorers Club's 2014 Buzz Aldrin Quadrennial Space Award for his work on the VASMIR.

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Franklin Chang Díaz's FAQ

  • What is Franklin Chang Díaz birthday?

    Franklin Chang Díaz was born at 1950-04-05

  • Where is Franklin Chang Díaz's birth place?

    Franklin Chang Díaz was born in San José

  • What is Franklin Chang Díaz nationalities?

    Franklin Chang Díaz's nationalities is Chinese, Costa Rican, American

  • Who is Franklin Chang Díaz spouses?

    Franklin Chang Díaz's spouses is Peggy Marguerite Doncaster

  • Who is Franklin Chang Díaz siblings?

    Franklin Chang Díaz's siblings is Sonia Rosa Chang-Díaz

  • Who is Franklin Chang Díaz childrens?

    Franklin Chang Díaz's childrens is Jean Elizabeth Chang-Díaz, Lidia Aurora Chang-Díaz, Miranda Karina Chang-Díaz, Sonia Chang-Díaz

  • What was Franklin Chang Díaz universities?

    Franklin Chang Díaz studied at Massachusetts Institute Of Technology (MIT), 1969 - Hartford Public High School, 1973 - University of Connecticut, 1977 - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • What was Franklin Chang Díaz notable alumnis?

    Franklin Chang Díaz's notable alumnis is Massachusetts Institute Of Technology (MIT)

  • Which company or organization was founded by Franklin Chang Díaz?

    Franklin Chang Díaz was the founder/co-founder of Ad Astra Rocket Company

  • Who is Franklin Chang Díaz's father?

    Franklin Chang Díaz's father is Ramón Angel Chang Morales

  • Who is Franklin Chang Díaz's mother?

    Franklin Chang Díaz's mother is María Eugenia Díaz Romero

  • What is Franklin Chang Díaz's sun sign?

    Franklin Chang Díaz is Aries

  • How famous is Franklin Chang Díaz?

    Franklin Chang Díaz is famouse as Former NASA Astronaut