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Speaker > Biography

Biography of Franklin Chang-Diaz

Franklin Chang DíazFranklin Chang-Díaz is an astronaut, rocket scientist and a new space entrepreneur. He was born April 5, 1950, in San José, Costa Rica and, after completing his secondary education, immigrated to the United States in 1868 to pursue his dream of space flight. After learning English as a senior student at Hartford Public High School he earned a scholarship to the University of Connecticut where he obtained a BS in mechanical engineering. He continued his education at MIT, obtaining a PhD in applied plasma physics in 1977. He became a US citizen that same year.

After MIT, Dr. Chang-Díaz joined the technical staff of the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory where he continued his research in plasmas and fusion technology. In May of 1980 he was selected by NASA as an astronaut candidate and in August of 1981 received his astronaut wings. He completed a record 7 missions in space before leaving NASA for the private sector in July of 2005. He is the founder and current Chairman and CEO of Ad Astra Rocket Company, a private firm specializing in advanced plasma rockets based in Houston Texas, with research operations in Houston and Costa Rica. He continues to serve in academia as an Adjunct Professor of Physics at Rice University and the University of Houston. He is married to the former Peggy Marguerite Doncaster of Alexandria, Louisiana and has four daughters: Jean Elizabeth (32) Sonia Rosa (28), Lidia Aurora (18) and Miranda Karina (11). He enjoys music, flying and scuba-diving. His mother, brothers and sisters still reside in Costa Rica.


Sponsors Mesoamerica Energy Credicorp Bank RGM International SUN Group The Nand & Jeet Khemka Foundation St Regis Residence Costa Rica Ryder Real InterContinental Costa Rica Hotel RIO 2006: Wharton Global Alumni Cafe Soluble