Dr. Chang-Díaz is a veteran of seven space shuttle missions and holds a doctorate in applied plasma physics. His work as a scientist astronaut helped foster closer ties between the astronaut corp and the science community.
Born in San Jose, Costa Rica, Chang-Díaz joined the astronaut corp in 1980 and went on to fly seven space shuttle missions and logging over 19 hours in spacewalks.
With a Doctorate in Applied Plasma Physics from MIT, Chang-Díaz was the recipient of the AIAA 2001 Wyld Propulsion Award for his research on the VASIMR engine.
After retiring from NASA in 2005, Chang-Díaz founded the Ad Astra Rocket Company to continue his work with sustainable, high-power engines for space travel.
Franklin R. Chang-Díaz
Selected by NASA as part of the 1980 class of Space Shuttle astronauts, Dr. Chang-Diaz first flew as a mission specialist on the STS-61C mission in 1986. HIs 25-year career as an astronaut included seven space shuttle missions and serving as the Director of the NASA Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory from 1994-2005 where he led the early development of the VASIMR® rocket engine. After retiring from NASA, Chang-Diaz founded the Ad Astra Rocket Company to continue his work to build sustainable, efficient, and high-power propulsion systems.
The STS-46 crew posed with seven flags that represented the global participation on the flight. During the eight-day mission, the crew deployed the European EURECA satellite and conducted the first Tethered Satellite System test flight.