Sunday, November 2, 2008

High Tech in Costa Rica

So I'm a geek at heart. I get a little excited when I read about cutting edge technology. And when it happens to coincide with Costa Rica, well! I think I need to get a fainting couch :-D.

Costa Rica's favorite technical son is Franklin Chang, the ASTRONAUT. But wait! Costa Rica doesn't *have* a space program, does it?!? Nope (not yet). Franklin Chang emigrated from Costa Rica to the United States. He became a USA citizen, a NASA astronaut, and flew seven missions (he is tied for first place for the most missions). Because of *him,* Costa Rica changed its citizenship laws** to allow for dual citizenship - otherwise, he would have had to give up his Costa Rican citizenship, which would have been just too sad for everyone.

Since retiring from NASA, he has been focused on his plasma engine development company, Ad Astra Rocket, which is located in Texas and Costa Rica.

PBS interviewed him, and you can see the video of it here - definitely worth watching:

And the technical news that got me started? Plasma engines! Ad Astra announced a successful test - love those milestones :-)

A note on names, if you are not familiar with the Spanish convention - A person (e.g., Franklin Chang Díaz) has two last names, the primary is his father's primary last name (Chang), and the secondary is his mother's primary last name (Díaz). Women do not change their names when they marry, but may alternatively be known as "de [husband's primary last name]" (de Chang). So, when you see the name "Franklin Chang Díaz" in Costa Rica, it is the same as "Franklin Chang" or "Franklin Chang D." This can cause confusion for emigres (in both directions). In the United States, he kept both names by hyphenating, and is "Franklin Chang-Diaz."

** For more on changing citizenship laws, see Michael Jones-Correa, "Why Immigrants Want Dual Citizenship."


michael alan said...

Hey Julie and Rick. Found your blog- lots of good info. My name is michael alan and I live in la fortuna. Not sure you 'have' or 'do' video or slide show presentations, ,,but if you do, would love to see them on our site: Check it out, I'm sure you'll see we're on to something. it's free of course. We just want to share the costa rican experience with others. Anyways, keep informing.
michael alan

Julie said...

Thanks Michael Alan! So far I've been keeping the blog pretty low-tech (it started on a site that only allowed one picture per post). But I suspect it will soon have a *lot* more pictures...
Scanned your sites - I'll definitely go back for a deeper look soon.