15 November 1994
Prof.ir. Karel F. Wakker (1944) graduated ‘cum laude’ as Ingenieur Aerospace Engineering from the Department Aeronautical Engineering of Delft University of Technology in December 1967. His thesis dealt with the application of ion propulsion for spaceflight. After his graduation he joined the team of Prof.ir. H. Wittenberg at the Department Aeronautical Engineering. He started his career in the field of satellite design and satellite mission analysis, but specialized since 1973 in precise satellite orbit computations, and the application of the computed orbits and of measurements acquired by instruments on board of satellites, for geodetic, geophysical and oceanographic research. From 1980 to 2000 he acted as principal investigator in seven ESA and NASA satellite missions. His research team participated in a large number of ESA, NASA and industrial contract studies. In August 1985 he was appointed as professor of space technology at Delft University’s Faculty of Aerospace Engineering. From September 1993 to January 2002 he served the university as Rector Magnificus. In January 2002 he was appointed as professor of astrodynamics and geodynamics at the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering and at the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences. In October 2003 he was appointed as general director of SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research; a research institute of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), which develops and exploits instruments for space research. In February 2009 he retired, but continued his parttime professorship at the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering until 2015. Prof. Wakker is Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion. He is author or co-author of many scientific publications, has received more than ten international awards for his research, was member of various boards of the European Space Agency (ESA) and of Delft University and the Dutch science and space community. He also acted as advisor to some Dutch governmental bodies and to the Dutch space industry.