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Former NASA astronaut Franklin R. Chang-Díaz to speak at Sept. 25 BYU forum

Former NASA astronaut Franklin R. Chang-Díaz will present a Brigham Young University forum address titled “Mapping a Path to the Solar System and Beyond” Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 11:05 a.m. in the Marriott Center.

The forum will be broadcast live on the BYU Broadcasting channels. For rebroadcast information, visit

Chang-Díaz was born in San José, Costa Rica. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Connecticut and his doctorate in applied plasma physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He chose this mix of skills to prepare him to fulfill his dream of becoming an astronaut.

In 1980, Chang-Díaz was one of 19 candidates chosen from a pool of 3,000 applicants to enter NASA astronaut training. He went on to fly a record seven space missions, perform three space walks and log more than 1,600 hours in space. He also directed the Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center, served as capsule commander at the Houston Mission Control Center for two space shuttle missions and led the astronaut team at the Kennedy Space Center.

Chang-Díaz has received many honors, including the Liberty Medal from President Ronald Regan and NASA’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, which he has received two times.

He continues his academic work as an adjunct professor of physics at Rice University and the University of Houston. He is also the founder, current chairman and CEO of Ad Astra Rocket Company. In addition to his scientific work, Chang-Díaz has been active in his native Costa Rica, helping to design and implement a plan to transform the country into a fully developed nation.

Writer: Marissa Ballantyne


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