Advisory Board

Dr. Simon Peter “Pete” Worden

Dr. Simon Peter “Pete” Worden, Brig. Gen., USAF, Ret., Ph.D. is Chairman of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation.
The Breakthrough Prize is a set of international awards bestowed in three categories by Breakthrough Prize Board in recognition of scientific advance. The categories are Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics, and Mathematics. Laureates receive $3 million each in prize money. The prizes were founded by Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, Yuri Milner and Julia Milner, and Jack Ma and Cathy Zhang. Committees of previous laureates choose the winners from candidates nominated in a process that’s online and open to the public.
Pete was Director of NASA’s Ames Research Center (ARC) at Moffett Field, California, until his retirement in March 2015. Prior to joining NASA, he held several positions in the United States Air Force and was research professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He is a recognized expert on space issues — both civil and military.
Pete has authored or coauthored more than 150 scientific papers in astrophysics, space sciences, and strategic studies. He served as a scientific co-investigator for two NASA space science missions, and received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal for the 1994 Clementine mission.
At the University of Arizona, his primary research direction was the development of large space optics for national security and scientific purposes and near-earth asteroids. Additionally he worked on topics related to space exploration and solar-type activity in nearby stars.
In addition to his position with the University of Arizona, Pete served as a consultant to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on space-related issues. During the 2004 Congressional Session he worked as a Congressional Fellow with the Office of Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), where he served as Senator Brownback’s chief advisor on NASA and space issues.
He retired from the United States Air Force in 2004 after 29 years of active service. His final position there was Director of Development and Transformation, Space and Missile Systems Center, Air Force Space Command, Los Angeles Air Force Base. In this position he was responsible for developing new directions for Air Force Space Command programs and was instrumental in initiating a major Responsive Space Program designed to produce space systems and launchers capable of tailored military effects on timescales of hours.
Pete’s numerous papers and articles include The Large Benefits of Small-Satellite Missions, Feasibility Analysis for a Manned Mars Free-Return Mission in 2018, Technology Development for Fundamental Physics on Small Satellites, Testable lightweight telescopes for space, How to Work in the New Space Security Environment, and On self-licking ice cream cones.
Pete was commissioned in 1971 after earning a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Michigan. He entered the Air Force in 1975 after graduating from the University of Arizona with a doctorate in astronomy.
Watch S. Pete Worden: Breakthrough Discuss 2016 — Breakthrough Starshot Challenges, Dr. S Pete Worden of NASA Ames Center in Conversation with Chris DiBona | Talks at Google, Pete Worden; NASA Ames Research Center, Director, Dr. Simon “Pete” Worden — 15th Annual International Mars Society Convention , Pete Worden on Settling the Solar System | Singularity University, Long Conversation — Pete Worden Announces 100-Year Starship, and Dr. Pete Worden Interview, Entrepreneurship & Space Exploration @ NASA Ames. Listen to him on The Space Show! Read his LinkedIn profile and his Wikipedia profile. Follow his Twitter feed.