Franklin Chang Díaz

Most Popular

San José,
Birth Sign
San José,

Franklin Chang-Diaz is a former NASA astronaut and physicist. Since he was a child, he loved the idea of being an astronaut. He moved to the U.S. when he was a teenager to follow that dream. Once he was used to life in the U.S., he started college. He had trouble in the beginning of his education because he wasn’t a U.S. citizen, but he worked through those problems and went to college. He got his PhD in plasma physics, but his major was mechanical engineering. While he was doing research for his master’s degree in nuclear fusion, he sent a letter of interest to NASA to become an astronaut. They let him in, and even though he was a scientist and not in the military like most astronauts used to be, he became one of the most-flown astronauts in the program. He went into space seven times. His last trip was in 2002 to fix parts of the International Space Station. He worked for NASA until 2005, when he retired. For his work, NASA gave him several awards. He then started his own company, where he has done research on how to make space shuttles work better and faster. He also works to make people aware of climate change.

Early years and childhood

ranklin Ramón Chang-Diaz was born in San José, Costa Rica, on April 5, 1950. He is one of six kids. His mother was from Costa Rica, and his father was from China.

From a young age, he was interested in space, and he was sure that moving to the United States was the only way to make his dream come true. In the late 1960s, when he finished high school, his family helped him move to the United States to follow his dream.

Together with his uncle, he moved to Hartford, Connecticut. He didn’t know English, so he went to high school there to get ready for school in the U.S.

Because he wasn’t a U.S. citizen, he had to deal with some problems. He was offered a scholarship to go to the University of Connecticut, but he couldn’t get it because he wasn’t a U.S. citizen. People signed a petition, and in the end, he was able to get the scholarship and the in-state tuition rate for one year.

In 1969, he got a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Connecticut.
He then went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to get a graduate degree and a Ph.D. in plasma physics.

Franklin Diaz’s Career

When NASA’s space program started up again in 1977, they asked for people who were interested in becoming astronauts. Chang-Diaz applied, and in 1980, she was chosen. At the time, he was learning about how atoms fuse together.

Again, because he was a scientist, he had to deal with the trouble. At that time, people from the military usually went on space missions, while scientists made the rockets. But in 1986, six years after he was chosen, he flew on mission STS-61-C aboard the Columbia. He would fly seven more missions after this one.

He was supposed to be on board the doomed Challenger mission in 1986. For him and his coworkers, the disaster was a wake-up call. After the tragedy, his second mission in 1992 became much more important.
In 1993, he took over at the John Space Center as head of the Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory.

In all, he went into space seven times. STS-60 was in 1994, STS-75 was in 1996, STS-91 was in 1998, and STS-111 was in 2001. (2002).
During his trip on the ship Endeavor in 2002, he worked on the International Space Station and went on three spacewalks.

In 2005, he left NASA and started the Ad Astra Rocket Company. Right now, the company is working on the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR), which he thinks will change the way people travel to space by letting them go farther in less time and go back home.

He also joined the faculty at Rice University, where he taught physics and astronomy as an Adjunct Professor.

Works of note

He wrote “Dream’s Journey,” which is an autobiographical story about the time when he moved from Costa Rica to the United States.

In an autobiographical trilogy he is writing, “The First Years” is the first of three books. In this first part, he talks about his childhood in Costa Rica.

Awards & Achievements

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan gave him the Medal of Liberty for his outstanding work for NASA after he became a citizen of the United States.
He has won several awards from the government of Costa Rica for his work.

In 1988, 1990, and 1993, NASA gave him the NASA Exceptional Service Medals for his work.
In 1995 and 1997, he got the NASA Distinguished Service Medal twice.

In 2012, he was inducted into the NASA Astronaut Hall of Fame for his outstanding work in space research.
He was given the 2014 Buzz Aldrin Quadrennial Space Award by The Explorers Club for his work on the VASMIR.

Personal History and Legacies

Chang-Diaz is married to Peggy Marguerite Doncaster and has four children with her.
He was the first person of Hispanic background from Costa Rica to go to space.

He works to protect the environment and was in the movie “Odyssey 2050,” which pushed people to do something about climate change.

Estimated Net Worth

Franklin is one of the richest Astronauts & listed as the most popular Astronaut. Based on what we found on Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider, Franklin Chang-Daz has a net worth of about $1.5 million.


He is often referred to as Spanish American, but Chang-Diaz emphasizes that is an incomplete picture of his heritage because his father was Chinese.

He is both an American and a citizen of Costa Rica.
At first, he was supposed to go on the Challenger mission in 1986.