Costa Ricans, particularly those in official positions are thrilled that Franklin Chang Díaz has been named for induction into the Astronaut hall of fame at the Kennedy Space Center.
The Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología issued a statement Wednesday extending congratulations to Chang and said that the Costa Rican-U.S. Astronaut had inspired many youngsters in the country.
Chang, 62, is currently president and CEO of Ad Astra Rocket Co. which is constructing a plasma rocket engine.
He is the first naturalized U.S. citizen to be an astronaut and served on seven space shuttle missions.
Chang went to school in San José and eventually received a doctorate in plasma physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Chang will be officially inducted May 5 along with astronauts Kevin P. Chilton and Charles J. Precourt, said a release from Kennedy Space Center.
This is the 11th group of space shuttle astronauts named to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, the center said. Earlier inductees represent the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz programs. The addition of Chang, who has logged more than 1,601 hours in space; Gen. Chilton, the pilot on space shuttle Endeavour’s maiden voyage and the commander of STS-76; and Col. Precourt, who served as shuttle mission specialist, pilot and spacecraft commander, will bring the number of space explorers enshrined in the Hall of Fame to 82, the center added.
Chang also completed three space walks. He retired from NASA in July 2005 and then founded Ad Astra. The firm’s efforts have led to the production of a rocket that has the theoretical capability of carrying a manned mission to Mars in just 39 days, said the center.