Simon Peter “Pete” Worden, (Brig. Gen., USAF, Ret., PhD) (born 1949, in Michigan, USA) is the Chairman of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation and Executive Director of the foundation’s ‘Breakthrough Initiatives’. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Michigan and a PhD in Astronomy for the University of Arizona.
Prior to joining the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, Dr. Worden was Director of NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, USA until his retirement on March 31, 2015. He has held several positions in the United States Air Force and was research professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona, Tucson, USA. He is a recognized expert on space and science issues – both civil and military, and has been a leader in building partnerships between governments and the private sector internationally.
Dr. Worden has authored or co-authored more than 150 scientific papers in astrophysics space sciences, and strategic studies. He served as a scientific co-investigator for three NASA space science missions – most recently the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph launched in 2013 to study the Sun.
He received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal for the 1994 Clementine Mission to the moon. Dr. Worden was named the 2009 Federal Laboratory Consortium Laboratory Director of the Year and is the recipient of the 2010 Arthur C. Clarke Innovator’s Award.
On July 20, 2015 at the Royal Society in London, UK, Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking launched the Breakthrough Initiatives. At the press conference Pete Worden was introduced as the Chairman for the Breakthrough Prize Foundation. In this capacity he leads the Breakthrough Initiatives.
On April 12, 2016 in the One World Observatory in New York, NY, Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking announced the Breakthrough StarShot Initiative to develop and launch Earth’s first interstellar probe within a generation. Pete Worden leads this Initiative as its Executive Director.