San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Tico astronaut Franklin Chang reaches first fundraising goal

“Success! We have just crushed our Kickstarter goal! Thanks to all who are supporting us.”

That’s the message Tico astronaut Franklin Chang Diaz posted Monday night on social networks to announce he had reached the first fundraising goal to help produce a documentary on the plasma engine developed by his company Ad Astra Rockets.

On July 9, Chang launched a campaign via with the goal of raising $46,000 to produce a short documentary video. The video will explain how the plasma rocket engine he designed and built, called VASIMR (Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket), will work.

The goal was reached “due to a large number of inquiries we received on the project,” Chang said on a video posted on the fundraising page.

The documentary will use advanced graphic animation to explain VASIMR.

Projects seeking funding through Kickstarter campaigns must reach a minimum amount by a set deadline.

Ad Astra set its deadline for Aug. 12, and as of Tuesday morning, the fundraising had received pledges totaling some $54,000.

The Tico company now will aim for $60,000, which will allow Chang to produce extra copies of the documentary to be distributed to scientists and universities around the world. If the campaign reaches $100,000, Chang said he would produce a longer version of the documentary.

Franklin Chang Díaz was inducted into the NASA Hall of Fame in 2012 as one of the astronauts with the most space missions, totaling seven from 1986-2002. He accumulated 66 days off planet Earth.

In 1986, he became the first Latin American astronaut, and he retired from NASA in 2005 to pursue his dream of starting his own company to develop the plasma engine.

Contact L. Arias at

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