Franklin Chang Díaz
U.S. NASA Astronaut Hall of Fame
Founder, Chairman, and CEO, Ad Astra Rocket Company
ALSO KNOWN FOR:
-Being the inventor of the VASIMR® engine, a revolutionary new plasma rocket engine for in-space travel that is both efficient and sustainable
-Being the joint-holder of the world record of 7 Space Missions with NASA, logging 1,601 hours in space during the time period of 1981-2005, including 19 hours and 31 minutes in 3 space walks, with also more than 1,800 hours of additional flight time, including 1,500 hours in jet aircraft
-Being the first Costa Rican-born career NASA astronaut in 1981, with both Costa Rican & Chinese heritages
Since the 1970s, Dr. Franklin Chang Díaz developed the original concept of a high-power plasma rocket by cross-pollinating and experimenting ideas across disciplines and technologies. Holding 3 NASA patents to his name with the invention of the VASIMR® engine, Dr. Chang Díaz continues to break new ground as a space and renewable energies entrepreneur at Ad Astra Rocket Company. Ad Astra Rocket Company is based in Houston, Texas. It has an international subsidiary in Guanacaste, Costa Rica that focuses on renewable energies for the region. With an elite team of creative, innovative, and visionary international scientists at Ad Astra Rocket Company, Dr. Chang Díaz has matured the VASIMR® technology to a near space flight readiness level. The company prepares this cost-effective, efficient and sustainable rocket technology for a flight demonstration in space.
Ad Astra Rocket Company is a major contributor to a new wave of human and robotic commercial space activities that emerges worldwide. VASIMR® enables numerous in-space travel missions & operations. These missions including the deflection of dangerous asteroids that threaten the Earth and the removal of loose space debris that currently orbit around the Earth.
Ad Astra Rocket Company Costa Rica focuses on renewable energy products and services that cater to the increasingly-important market of renewable energies for electricity and transportation in the region. The Costa Rican energy sector alone already boasts the world's highest percentage of electricity derived from alternative sources. An estimated 97% of the country's total energy needs in electricity derives from hydroelectric plants, windmills, geothermal generators, biomass, and solar energy. Currently, the company in Costa Rica focuses on the developmental operations of the first-hydrogen powered bus for transportation in Central America.
Dr. Chang Díaz has over 35 years of experience in experimental plasma physics, engineering, and high power electric propulsion. Alongside his work as a U.S. astronaut at NASA, Dr. Chang Díaz implemented closer ties between the astronaut corps and the scientific community. In 1987, he founded and led the Astronaut Science Colloquium Program. He also helped initiate the Astronaut Science Support Group, which he directed until 1989. Since 1990, Dr. Chang Díaz has partnered with international initiatives between space scientists and Latin America. The United Nations sponsored the First Space Conference of The Americas in Costa Rica as a result of these types of initiatives. In subsequent years, additional conferences in Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico have followed the Costa Rican initiative. In 1992, Dr. Chang Díaz also envisioned and conducted on board the space shuttle the ChagaSpace Project. The ChagaSpace Project was the first multinational experiment on Protein Crystal Growth. Five countries from Latin America collaborated to study the tropical parasitic Chagas disease in space. In 1994, Dr. Chang Díaz founded and directed
the Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory (ASPL) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. This multi-center research team developed cutting-edge propulsion technology. Having served for 25 years in U.S. government space operations and in the management and implementation of research and development programs, Dr. Chang Díaz achieved numerous medals and recognitions. He received NASA's Distinguished Service Medal, the agency’s highest honor, on 4 different occasions. Prior to his work at NASA, Dr. Chang Díaz worked in magnetic and inertial confinement fusion research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the independent Charles Stark Draper Laboratory.
Anchored with a strong sense of global solidarity and an even stronger mission to give-back, Ad Astra Rocket Company hosts international educational outreach programs for younger generations. It also provides an international developmental experimental platform for up-and-coming students of science in applied plasma physics and renewable energies. Dr. Chang Díaz is also an Adjunct Professor of Physics at Rice University and the University of Houston, as well as an honorary faculty at numerous universities worldwide. Dr. Chang Díaz serves on the Board of Directors of Cummins Inc. (NYSE: CMI), a Fortune 500 corporation with headquarters in Indiana and a leader in power generation systems. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Earth University, an international educational institution located in Costa Rica and devoted to sustainable development. Dr. Chang Díaz also joined the Administrative Board of the Arias Foundation for World Peace. Since 2004, Dr. Chang Díaz leads Estrategia Siglo XXI. This is a non-profit organization launched in Costa Rica under the leadership of Dr. Franklin Chang Díaz to lead the country in its transformation as a developed nation with partnerships in science, technology, and innovation.
▪ PhD., Applied Plasma Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
▪ Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering, University of Connecticut
▪ Liberty Medal from President Ronald Reagan (1986)
▪ Medal of Excellence from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (1987)
▪ Cross of the Venezuelan Air Force from President Jaime Lusinchi (1988)
▪ Flight Achievement Award from the American Astronautical Society (1989)
▪ University of Connecticut’s Outstanding Alumni Award (1980);
▪ 7 NASA Space Flight Medals (1986, 1989, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2002)
▪ 4 NASA Distinguished Service Medals
▪ 3 NASA Exceptional Service Medals
▪ “Honoris Causa” Doctor of Science degrees of numerous and prestigious U.S. and foreign universities
▪ “Honorary Citizen” from the government of Costa Rica (1995)
▪ Wyld Propulsion Award from The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (2001)
Los Primeros Años (ISBN 978-9968-47-133-6)
Dream’s Journey (ISBN 978-0-692-33042-5)
To Mars and Beyond, Fast! How Plasma Propulsion Will Revolutionize Space Exploration (ISBN-13: 978-3319229171)