Dr. S. Pete Worden (Brig. Gen., USAF, ret.) is the NASA Ames Research Center Director. Prior to becoming Director, Dr. Worden was a Research Professor of Astronomy, Optical Sciences and Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona where 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. He is a recognized expert on space issues—both civil and military. Dr. Worden has authored or co-authored more than 150 scientific technical papers in astrophysics, space sciences, and strategic studies. Moreover, he served as a scientific co-investigator for two NASA space science missions.
In addition to his former position with the University of Arizona, Dr. Worden served as a consultant to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on space-related issues. During the 2004 Congressional Session Dr. Worden 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.
Dr. Worden retired in 2004 after 29 years of active service in the United States Air Force. His final position was Director of Development and Transformation, Space and Missile Systems Center, Air Force Space Command, Los Angeles Air Force Base, CA. 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.
Dr. Worden was commissioned in 1971 after receiving 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. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Dr. Worden served in every phase of development, international negotiations and implementation of the Strategic Defense Initiative, a primary component in ending the Cold War. He twice served in the Executive Office of the President. As the staff officer for initiatives in the George Bush administration’s National Space Council, Dr. Worden spearheaded efforts to revitalize U.S. civil space exploration and earth monitoring programs.
Dr. Worden commanded the 50th Space Wing that is responsible for more than 60 Department of Defense satellites and more than 6,000 people at 23 worldwide locations. He then served as Deputy Director for Requirements at Headquarters Air Force Space Command, as well as the Deputy Director for Command and Control with the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations at Air Force headquarters. Prior to assuming his current position, Dr. Worden was responsible for policy and direction of five mission areas: force enhancement, space support, space control, force application and computer network defense.
Dr. Worden has written or co-written more than 150 scientific technical papers in astrophysics, space sciences and strategic studies. He was a scientific co-investigator for two NASA space science missions. He and his wife Nancy reside in Placitas, New Mexico.