On Saturday, May 5, Astronaut Dr. Franklin R. Chang Díaz became the first Hispanic astronaut to be inducted into the NASA Astronaut Hall of Fame.
Dr. Chang Díaz was born April 5, 1950, in San José, Costa Rica, to the late Mr. Ramón A. Chang-Morales and Mrs. María Eugenia Dìaz De Chang. He graduated from Colegio De La Salle in San José, Costa Rica, in November 1967, and from Hartford High School in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1969. We went on to receive a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Connecticut in 1973 and a doctorate in applied plasma physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1977.
In May 1980, Chang Díaz was selected by NASA and became an astronaut in August of 1981. While undergoing astronaut training he was also involved in flight software checkout at the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL), and participated in the early Space Station design studies.
During his 25 years in the astronaut program, Chang Díaz became one of only two astronauts to fly on seven space shuttle missions and has logged more than 1,601 hours in space. Chang Díaz’s missions aboard the space shuttle include STS-61-C, STS-34, STS-46,STS-60, STS-75, STS-91, and STS-111.
He retired from NASA in July 2005.
Chang Díaz was among the three astronauts inducted into the NASA Astronaut Hall of Fame on Saturday. Astronauts Kevin P. Chilton and Charles J. Precourt were also honored at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Chilton is a three-time space shuttle astronaut, and has logged more than 704 hours in space. He has served as the pilot of STS-49 and STS-59, and as the commander of STS-76.
During his 15 years in the space program, Precourt flew four space flights and logged a total of 932 hours in space. He served as mission specialist on STS-55, as pilot on STS-71, and as commander on STS-84 and STS-91.