Wubbo Ockels – in Space!

We’ve covered many fine Dutch names on this blog before, from Cornelius Drebbel to Kees A. Schouhamer Immink and Guus Hiddink. But today’s subject may just have the best name of them all.

Wubbo Ockels.

Yes, you read that right. This marvelous name belonged to the Dutch physicist and astronaut, who for one thing held the distinction of being the first Dutchman to visit space. This may also qualify him to enter the race for Funniest Named Person to Visit Space, right up there with Buzz Aldrin and Ham the Chimpanzee.

Wubbo Ockels, seen here posing with a phallic object.

Wubbo Ockels, seen here posing with a phallic object.

Ok, Wubbo is clearly the best name ever to visit space.

Born in March of 1946 in the Netherlands, young Wubbo had his PhD in Physics and Mathematics by the time he was 32 , doing experimental work at the Nuclear Physics Accelerator Institute. This to me sounds like the setup of all of those comic book heroes who are exposed to gamma rays or something and suddenly have the ability to lift large buildings or turn any object into potato chips.

Wubbo, however, never did have a gamma accelerator accident, and instead was eventually selected by the European Space Agency for their astronaut training program. Or programme, as they may well prefer it. His dream of space travel came true in 1985, rocketing out of the Earth on the  STS-61A Challenger. Clearly they never named the spaceships quite as catchily as the astronauts.

Wubbo Ockels took this fantastic look into space in 1985. Simply dashing.

Wubbo Ockels took this fantastic look into space in 1985. Simply dashing.

The International Astronomical Union later found his name as great as we do, and named a small planetoid in his honor, the 9496 Ockels orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. Go ahead and pay it a visit next time you have some vacation time. I hear it’s nice and quiet out there.

In his later years, Mr. Wubbo Ockels continued to sport his fine mustache, and taught aerospace engineering at the Delft University of Technology in his native Netherlands. He was also intimately involved in the development of super-fast public transport technology called Superbus, as well as some very promising energy harvesting systems referred to as Airborne Wind Energy. In short, Wubbo Ockels was one smart, awesome dude.

About Arto

Co-founder of the Funny Names Blog, Hawaiian shirt enthusiast, and holder of a funny name himself with too many vowels for any sensible person. Currently residing in San Diego, California, scouring through obscure documents on a hunt for more funny names. www.funnynamesblog.wordpress.com
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15 Responses to Wubbo Ockels – in Space!

  1. wdydfae says:

    Dang, good one, ksbeth!

    I’m glad ksbeth came up with something because this name and post was one of the few that just plain struck me speechless. No smart alecky comment material, no nothing. Zip. Nada.

    In desperation I was going to do something with “Weebles wubbo but they don’t fall down” but the 70s Weebles commercial was like whoooaaa freaky bad trip, man.

    And it led me into an old commercial search string that got me nothing Wubbo related, even tangentially. But I did find a CM with someone who I think is a teenage Matt LeBlanc. I’m waiting for amb to verify over at WBS. Will she thank me? Or curse me?

    It’s all Wubbo’s fault.

    • Arto says:

      Hoo boy, that is some trip indeed. Someone should program a whole day’s worth of these commercials in a theater somewhere and blow everyone’s mind all day long. Weebles wubbo wombles hour.

      The rare day diddy gets stumped. Of course it had to be a mustachioed dutch astronaut with an impossible name.

      • Dave says:

        Yes, that would be incredible! There were Billy Mays’ Shamwow alternative Zorbees, and the vacuum attachment that cut hair, the Flowbee! Seems like a lot of “bees” in these ridiculous product!

  2. kerbey says:

    With a name like that, it already seems so casual that no nickname would be necessary. In fact, I wonder if he didn’t get his “propers” as Aretha Franklin would say, since it does sound so chummy. Granted, he did get an planetoid named after him. And ockels sounds like a unit of measure. Ex: He had to accelerate to 4000 ockels, etc. He was fortunate to be born at a time when one could actually become an astronaut and countries could support space programs. His name, that suit, that mustache–it’s like a perfect storm. And Arto–he only just died a few months ago? 😦

    • Arto says:

      He did indeed die only recently. I feel this is a fitting tribute to his great legacy.

      You’re right, we desperately need more mustaches in space. Gladly our friend Elon Musk is busy sending some to Mars soon.

      I greatly enjoyed your ponderings on the meaning of ockels. It does sound like a measure. “Add three ockles of cinnamon to your tea each morning”. Sounds right.

  3. Dave says:

    Dude, the guy looks like a janitor in his astronaut gear! What a look!

  4. Liz says:

    I was going to say “hubba hubba,” but Beth said it way better. Impressive guy and if he’s sporting a ‘stache all the better. And he has a planetoid named after him. He is brilliant as are you for finding him.

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