Pete Worden

Executive Director
Breakthrough Initiatives

Simon Peter “Pete” Worden, (Brig Gen, USAF, Ret, PhD) 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. Brigadier General Worden served on active duty from 1975 to 2004 and was twice assigned to the Executive Office of the President.

Dr. Worden 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. He has authored or co-authored more than 150 scientific papers. 

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.

From 2017 to the present, Brigadier General Worden has been an Advisor to the Luxembourg Space Agency and was appointed as a Knight-Commander of the Order of Merit of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in 2018 for his space services.

Related Videos

Game Changers – Fireside Chat Foresight of Space

Originally aired: April 19, 2023