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In August of 1968, Franklin Chang-Díaz arrived in the United States unable to speak English. By 1977 he had earned a Ph.D. in applied plasma physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Franklin Chang-Díaz was born in San José, Costa Rica, on April 5,1950. He was fascinated by the space exploration of the sixties and spent his boyhood imagining what life in space must be like. At an early age, Franklin decided that some day he would go to the United States and become an astronaut. Franklin worked very hard to realize his dream. When he arrived in the United States in 1968, he had only $50.00 in his pocket and didn't speak English! Nevertheless, he was able to convince Hartford Public High School officials to enroll him as a high school senior with a full load of courses. Although he failed his classes the first two quarters, his third and fourth quarter grades were so outstanding they earned him a full scholarship to the University of Connecticut. Franklin Chang-Díaz received a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Connecticut in 1973. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in applied plasma physics and fusion technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977. While a graduate student at MIT, Franklin Chang-Díaz began intensive research into the design and control of fusion reactors. Dr. Chang-Díaz became an astronaut in 1981; he has logged over 1,600 hours in space. Dr. Chang-Díaz served as a mission specialist on STS-91 -- the final scheduled Shuttle/Mir docking mission. He retired from NASA in 2005.
Dr. Chang-Díaz describes himself as an adventurer who enjoys putting his body in positions that are "taxing." Hunting, underwater diving, fishing and exploring are among his interests. Dr. Chang-Díaz is married and has four children.
Which of Dr. Chang-Díaz's hobbies would help prepare him for space travel?
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