Just 39 days to Mars Houston Chronicle

With hard work, an immigrant’s dream of spaceflight came true. Now, his ticket to America could be our ticket to the Red Planet. Like many red-blooded American teens coming of age during the 1960s space race, Franklin Chang-Diaz dreamed of chasing cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin to the stars.
There was a hitch, of course. Chang-Diaz wasn’t American. He lived outside the United States. And the Costa Rican didn’t even speak English.
No matter. Chang-Diaz would overcome these obstacles and more to fly a record-tying seven missions aboard the space shuttle. Along the way the physicist would also develop a plasma rocket that promises a revolutionary approach to spaceflight.
The rocket, potentially, could blast the next generation of astronauts to Mars in just 39 days, about one fifth of the time required by existing rocketry.