From DDP 31st Annual Meeting, July 13, 2013, Houston, TX.
Dr. Franklin Chang Diaz is founder and current CEO of Ad Astra Rocket Company, www.adastrarocket.com, a U.S. firm developing advanced plasma rocket technology with operations in Houston, Texas, and Guanacaste, Costa Rica. In 2005 Dr. Chang Díaz completed a 25-year career as a NASA astronaut, where he became a veteran of 7 space missions. He has logged more than 1,600 hours in space, including 19 hours in three space walks. In 1994, in conjunction with astronaut training at NASA, he founded and directed the Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory (ASPL) at the Johnson Space Center, where he managed a multi-center research team developing advanced plasma rocket propulsion concepts. Dr. Chang Díaz is the inventor of the VASIMR® engine, a high-power plasma rocket currently under development by Ad Astra for in-space applications. He has more than 30 years of experience in experimental plasma physics, engineering, and high-power electric propulsion and 25 years of experience in space operation and the management and implementation of research and development programs at NASA. Dr. Chang Díaz holds a Ph.D. degree in applied plasma physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Connecticut. Prior to his work at NASA, Dr. Chang Díaz was involved in magnetic and inertial confinement fusion research at MIT and the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory. He is an adjunct professor of physics at Rice University and the University of Houston.