Franklin Chang Díaz
Franklin Chang Díaz (born in San José, Costa Rica, on April 5, 1950, and a dual citizen of the United States and Costa Rica) is the founder and president of Ad Astra Rocket Company, an advanced rocket technology company in North America, with operations in Webster, Texas, and Guanacaste, Costa Rica. He graduated from MIT in 1977 with a PhD in plasma physics.
In July of 2005, Franklin concluded a successful 25-year career as a NASA astronaut, achieving a world record of seven space flights. During this time, he continued the development of the VASIMR®, a new space propulsion system he invented and patented and which is now entering its commercial phase. Throughout his career, he has promoted science and space technology in Latin America, aware of the extraordinary potential that exists in the region. In 1990, he led a group of space scientists in search of a plan for regional integration and collaboration in space technology projects in Latin America that resulted in the organization of the First Space Conference of The Americas, sponsored by The United Nations and held in Costa Rica. Three similar conferences in Chile, Uruguay and Colombia followed this initiative.
Two years later, Franklin helped to form The Chaga Space Project, a collaboration between five countries in the study of potential natural inhibitors to Chagas disease in the microgravity of space. The project resulted in the first multinational flown experiment from Latin America in protein crystallization with medical applications, which Franklin conducted in two of his missions on the Space Shuttle.
More recently, Franklin has been active in his country of birth, Costa Rica, where he leads the implementation of The Strategy for the 21st Century, a master plan designed to transform Costa Rica into a fully developed country before 2050. He is married to Dr. Peggy Marguerite Stafford of Alexandria, Louisiana, and has four daughters. Franklin enjoys music, flying and diving. His mother, brothers and sisters live in Costa Rica.