Franklin Chang-Diaz

VASIMR rocket
VASIMR rocket

I’ve just been reading about an interesting fellow named Franklin Chang-Diaz.  Here are some facts about Mr Chang-Diaz:

  • He currently holds the record for the most number of space flights by a single astronaut
  • He is the first naturalized US citizen to become an astronaut.  (He’s originally from Costa Rica.)
  • His daughter is now a senator for the state of Massachusetts
  • He is 61 years old
  • He is of both Chinese and Hispanic extraction

Interesting fellow, no?  I think it’s important to take note of role models other than entertainment, sports and political figures.

Now, how did Mr Chang-Diaz enter into my awareness?  Well, I was reading about the Vasimir (variable specific impulse magnetoplasma) rocket.  It’s a revolutionary rocket design that, if successful, will dramatically reduce the time needed for interplanetary travel.  The concept of the vasimir was developed by Chang-Diaz, and his company is busily trying to build one.

In fact, later this year, a prototype will be fitted to the international space station to be tested.  If successful, it will prove to be a significantly more cost-effective method of performing the periodic firings required to maintain the station’s altitude.

Isn’t space stuff fun?