Born: March 28, 1946 in Almelo, the Netherlands
Born 28 March 1946, in Almelo, the Netherlands, but considers Groningen, the
Netherlands, to be his hometown. He is married and has two children.
Received a degree in physics and mathematics from the University of Groningen
in 1973. Completed a Ph.D. thesis on the basis of experimental work at the
Nuclear Physics Accelerator Institute (K.V.I.) in Groningen in 1978.
From 1973 to 1978, Wubbo 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.
In 1978, he was selected by the European Space Agency, as one of three
European payload specialists (science astronauts) to train for the Spacelab
missions, together with Ulf Merbold and Claude Nicollier. In May 1980, Ockels
began the basic astronaut training for mission specialist at NASA's Johnson
Space Center, Houston, United States. He successfully completed the training in
August 1981 and joined the Spacelab 1 crew for training as a back-up payload
specialist for the first mission of ESA's Spacelab. During the mission (28
November â€" 8 December 1983) he served as ground-communicator and
liaison-scientist for the crew on board STS-9/Spacelab 1.
From 1986, Wubbo Ockels was stationed at ESA's research and technology
centre, ESTEC, in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, where he supported human
spaceflights activities. He later became Head of ESA's Education and Outreach
Office in Noordwijk. During this time he also held a part-time professorship in
Aerospace at the Delft University of Technology.
From September 2003, in close coordination with ESA, he became full-time
professor of Aerospace for Sustainable Engineering and Technology at the Delft
University of Technology, the Netherlands, dealing with the exploitation of
alternative sources of energy. Through the professorship Ockels is involved in
innovative projects such as the Laddermill and the Nuna solar powered car, twice
leading a team of students to victory in the bi-annual World Solar Challenge in
Australia in 2001 and 2003.