FRANKLIN CHANG-DžAZ Biography - Pioneers, Explorers & inventors


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Name: Franklin Ramon Chang-Diaz                                                       
Born: 5 April 1950                                                                   
Franklin Ramon Chang-Diaz, Sc.D. (born 5 April 1950) is a Costa Rican-American       
physicist and former NASA astronaut. He is a veteran of seven space shuttle           
missions, making him the record holder for most spaceflights by an astronaut (a       
record he shares with Jerry L. Ross). He is one of the first American citizens       
of Latin American descent to go into space.                                           
Chang-Diaz was born in San Jose, Costa Rica to a father of Chinese and Spanish       
descent and a Spanish Costa Rican mother (both Costa Rican-born) and moved to         
the United States to finish his high school education. He earned a BS degree in       
mechanical engineering from the University of Connecticut in 1973, and a Sc.D.       
in applied plasma physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)       
in 1977. For his graduate research at MIT, Chang-Diaz worked in the field of         
fusion technology and plasma-based rocket propulsion.                                 
Chang-Diaz was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1980 and first flew     
aboard 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 EVAs with Philippe Perrin as part of the construction of the       
International Space Station. He was also director of the Advanced Space               
Propulsion Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center from 1993 to 2005. Chang-Diaz       
retired from NASA in 2005.