Ockels was the first Dutch astronaut and that is what he will be always known for. But after his one and only spaceflight in 1985, the last full journey of space shuttle Challenger, he gradually changed into a person who saw the Earth as the spaceship of humanity - and of all of the rest of nature. And that it needed to be saved.
He invented and innovated countless ideas on how we could be more environmentally friendly and how to save our planet.
I met Wubbo twice. The first time I was eight. It was not long after it was announced he would be training to become an astronaut. At that time I started to read all the books I could get my hands on about spaceflight. I wanted to become an astronaut. I still have that dream, by the way. Wubbo was the man who showed me that you didn't need to be American or Russian to become an astronaut. And he was very friendly when I talked to him. I don't know much about what we talked about. I was a little star struck, I think. I might have told him I also wanted to become an astronaut.
What he told at his lecture was in short that we all are astronauts. We all are astronauts of spaceship Earth. It is the only spaceship we know and we cannot risk losing it. We need to take care of our spaceship.
He was a very important human being. I hope he still will get his message across.
Now his second spaceflight finally has started, I can only wish him clean skies.