Wubbo J. Ockels

Wubbo J. Ockels (Ph.D.)
Astronaut, European Space Agency

Shuttle Mission(s): STS-61-A


PERSONAL DATA: Born March 28, 1946, in Almelo, The Netherlands, but considers Groningen, The Netherlands, to be his hometown. He is married and has two children.

EDUCATION: Received a doctor of philosophy 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.

ORGANIZATIONS: Member of the American Physical Society and the European Physical Society.

EXPERIENCE: From 1973 to 1978, Dr. 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 sofrware. He also contributed to the design and construction of position-sensitive charged particle detectors. While at the K.V.I. Institute, Dr. 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 (ESA) as one of three European payload specialists to train for the Spacelab 1 mission. In May 1980, under agreement between ESA and NASA, Dr. Ockels was selected to begin the basic astronaut training for mission specialist together with the NASA astronaut candidates at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas. He successfully completed this training in August 1981. He rejoined the Spacelab 1 crew for training as a back-up payload specialist for Spacelab 1, and during the mission he served as ground-communicator and liaison-scientist for the crew on-board STS-9 (1st Spacelab mission). In 1985, Dr. Ockels was a payload specialist aboard Challenger on STS-61A (Spacelab D-1). Since 1986 Wubbo Ockels has been stationed at ESTEC to support ESA's activities for future manned space flights. He is presently Head of ESA's new Office for Educational Projects Outreach Activities, he also holds a professorship in Aerospace at the Delft University of Technology.

SPACE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE: Dr. Ockels flew as a payload specialist on STS-61A Challenger (October 30 to November 6, 1985). STS-61A was the West German D-1 Spacelab mission. It was the first to carry eight crew members, the largest to fly in space, and was also the first in which payload activities were controlled from outside the United States. More than 75 scientific experiments were completed in the areas of physiological sciences, materials science, biology, and navigation. At mission conclusion Dr. Ockels had traveled 2.5 million miles in 110 Earth orbits, and logged over 168 hours in space.


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