Dutch astronaut, born 28 March 1946. Wubbo Ockels became the first Dutch person in space in October 1985, when he worked as a payload specialist on the space shuttle Challenger, mission STS-61-A/Spacelab D-1.
Renowned for his huge bushy moustache and soft-spoken, erudite manner, Prof. Dr. Ockels was catapulted into the limelight of Dutch media around this time. You could hardly watch a science programme or news feature on TV without him turning up and providing commentary or opinion. (Much in the way that Michael Foales became an instant celebrity and ubiquitous pundit in Britain when he flew on Mir. Never mind the fact that he had taken US citizenship: to the British media he was British, dammit!)
He is also in the Guinness Book of World Records as being the man with the most amusing name to ever have flown on board the space shuttle. (No, not really.)
- Thanks to the ESA web site (www.esa.int) for mission details and dates.