Wubbo Johannes Ockels is a
Dutch physicist and astronaut.
In 1985 he participated in a
flight of the space shuttle
making him the first and only Dutch citizen in space, until the
flight of Dutch astronaut Andre
to the International Space Station
in 2004. He is not the first Dutch-born astronaut, because he is
preceded by the naturalized American Lodewijk van den Berg
. Ockels is currently
professor of Aerospace for Sustainable Engineering and
Technology at the Delft University of Technology.
born March 28, 1946, in
Almelo but considers Groningen to be his hometown.
His obtained his
degree in 1973 and
subsequently a PhD
in 1978 from the University of Groningen
. His thesis
was based on experimental work at the Nuclear-physics Accelerator
Institute (KVI) in Groningen.
From 1973 to 1978, Ockels performed experimental investigations at
the Nuclear Physics Accelerator Institute in Groningen. His work
concerned the gamma-ray decay
of nuclear systems directly after
formation and the development of a data-handling system involving
design of electronics and programming of real-time software
. He also contributed
to the design and construction of position-sensitive charged
particle detectors. While at the K.V.I. Institute, Ockels
supervised the practical work of first-year physics students at the
University of Groningen.
he was selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) as one of three European payload specialists
to train for the Spacelab 1 mission.
1980, under agreement between ESA and NASA, Ockels and
Swiss astronaut Claude Nicollier
were selected to begin the basic astronaut training for mission
specialist together with the NASA astronaut candidates at NASA's
Wubbo Ockels in his astronaut days.
Ockels successfully completed this training
in August 1981. He rejoined the Spacelab 1
crew for training as a back-up payload specialist to operate
experiments aboard Spacelab 1. This mission of a reusable,
scientific research facility built by the European Space Agency
(ESA) took place aboard the Space Shuttle in November 1983.
Spacelab 1 was a joint NASA/ESA mission. Having served his role as
back-up payload specialist for German astronaut Ulf Merbold
, he took his place in Mission
Control in Houston as the primary communicator between the
astronauts working in Spacelab and the Mission Management Team in
Ockels flew as a payload specialist on the crew of STS-61A Challenger
to November 6
was the West
German D-1 Spacelab mission. It was the first to carry eight crew
members, (five Americans, two Germans and Ockels); the largest to
fly in space; and was also the first in which payload activities
were controlled from outside the United States: from the DLR
control center in Germany. More than 75 scientific experiments were
completed in the areas of physiological
, materials science
, and navigation
. At mission conclusion Ockels had
traveled 2.5 million miles in 110 Earth orbits, and logged over 168
hours in space.
A small planetoid
is named after Wubbo
Ockels by the International Astronomical
. The planetoid orbits the Sun between Mars
. The object's
full name is 9496 Ockels
.Ockels is a
member of the American
and the European Physical Society
to 2003, he was head of ESA's Office for Educational Projects Outreach
In 1992, Ockels was appointed part-time professor Aerospace Engineering
Aerospace for Sustainable Engineering and Technology) at the Delft
University of Technology, and promoted to full-time professor in
September 2003. In this function, he has overseen the Nuna
projects. He has also proposed the development of
, a new method of high
speed (250 km/hour) public
by road. The public transportation company
is the first company to invest
in the development of this Superbus..
Currently Wubbo Ockels is involved in his "LadderMill" sustainable energy
program. A Laddermill
is a kind of windmill
consisting of a "ladder" of "kites". As
quoted from his website:
The LadderMill is the response to the challenge for
exploiting the gigantic energy source contained in the airspace up
to high altitudes of 10 km.
The concept has been developed with the aim to convert
wind energy at altitude in electricity on the ground in an
environmental and cost effective manner.
Ockels is married and has two children.
In August 2005, Ockels suffered a severe heart attack
which required his
hospitalization. He has recovered well and has resumed his
work at the Delft University of Technology.
Whilst working at the university he has assisted and advised the
Nuon Solar Team
, a solar racer
team consisting of students,
which has won the World Solar
4 consecutive times from 2001 to 2007.