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?