Edward LU

Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, LeoLabs • Co-Founder and Executive Director, B612 Foundation

Dr. Edward Lu is an explorer whose quest is to map the unknown. As a physicist, engineer, pilot, former NASA astronaut, educator, and serial co-founder, Dr. Lu helps protect satellites from hitting debris and asteroids from hitting Earth.

His NASA career spanned 12 years including flights aboard the Space Shuttle (STS-84 and STS-106), Soyuz TMA-2, and the International Space Station (Expedition 7). He also co-founded the planetary science and planetary defense non-profit B612 Foundation with Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart, Clark Chapman, and others in 2002. He currently serves as Executive Director of the Asteroid Institute, which is a program of B612 Foundation. In addition, he co-founded the space situational awareness company LeoLabs in 2016 and currently serves as its Chief Technology Officer.

Dr. Lu has published peer-reviewed papers on astrodynamics, planetary science, high energy astrophysics, plasma physics, solar physics, cosmology, and statistical physics. He has also published technical policy related editorials in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and Scientific American.

Education: Graduated from R.L. Thomas High School, Webster, New York, in 1980. Bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Cornell University, 1984. Doctorate in applied physics from Stanford University, 1989. NASA Experience

Dr. Lu served as a NASA Astronaut for twelve years. He flew aboard the Space Shuttle twice and flew on the Russian Soyuz up to the International Space Station (ISS) where he did a six-month tour. He has logged over 206 days in space and an EVA (spacewalk) totaling six hours and 14 minutes. Dr. Lu flew as a mission specialist on STS-84 in 1997, as a payload commander and lead spacewalker on STS-106 in 2000, and as flight engineer of Soyuz TMA-2, where he served as NASA ISS science officer and flight engineer on ISS Expedition 7 in 2003.

In 2003, in the weeks following the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Dr. Lu was called upon by NASA to launch to the International Space Station in order to maintain operations on orbit with a two-person skeleton crew. He completed the Russian Soyuz training in just nine weeks and became the first American to launch as the Flight Engineer aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Dr. Lu and Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko then spent six months aboard the ISS, demonstrating that the Space Station could be maintained while carrying on productive scientific research with only two people.

Recognitions: Dr. Lu’s 12-year NASA career include NASA’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, as well as the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, Russian Medal of Merit for Spaceflight, Gagarin Medal, Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Komorov Medal, Beregovoy Medal and three NASA Spaceflight medals.

Nonprofit Experience: Dr. Lu’s continuing interest in asteroid deflection led to the formation of B612 Foundation, for which he serves as Executive Director of Asteroid Institute, a program of B612. With headquarters in Silicon Valley, California, the mission is dedicated to planetary defense against asteroids.

In this role at B612, Dr. Lu has overseen related research to help detect NEOs that could one day strike the Earth and find the technological means to divert their path to avoid such collisions. His organization has been at the forefront of efforts to bring the problem of asteroid impacts to the attention of the world. His participation in the Association of Space Explorers with co-founder and Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart, helped convince the United Nations to establish the International Asteroid Warning Network, and to establish a Space Missions Planning Advisory Group to provide oversight on proposed asteroid deflection missions.

Commercial Experience: Following his stint at NASA, Dr. Lu dedicated his career to solving large technical problems at the intersection of space, public policy, and computer science. From 2007 to 2010, Dr. Lu served as Program Manager for Advanced Projects at Google Inc. He was responsible for a diverse group of projects ranging from Google Street View imaging, book scanning technology, imaging for Google Maps/Earth, and energy projects including Google PowerMeter, an online tool for monitoring home energy usage.

In 2016, Dr. Lu co-founded LeoLabs, the world’s leading provider of space safety, sustainability, and security services for low Earth orbit (LEO).

Previously serving as the Vice President of Strategic Projects, he currently serves as the Chief Technology Officer. In this role, he leads the development of innovative technologies to find, track, and monitor objects in LEO, including satellites and debris. From building hardware to developing software, Dr. Lu technical expertise has been crucial to the success of LeoLabs’ phased-array global sensor network and AI-powered advanced operations platform. With his leadership, LeoLabs is transforming the way assets are tracked and monitored in LEO.

Policy Experience: Dr. Lu is frequently consulted as a scientific advisor to the White House and NASA on space technology and policy issues. Dr. Lu testified before House and Senate subcommittees on the danger of Near-Earth Asteroids following the Chelyabinsk event in February 2013. Dr. Lu also helped to drive energy policy work for Google. In this role he testified before the U.S. Congress on energy issues and met with officials on both the Federal and State level to ensure that consumers are granted access to their own home energy use information. In addition, he has testified before both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives on aerospace issues. Dr. Lu recently served as a commissioner with the Center for Strategic and International Studies Commission on U.S./China Relations.

Scientific Achievements: Dr. Lu has been an active research scientist working in the fields of solar physics, astrophysics, plasma physics, and planetary science. He held positions at the High Altitude Observatory, the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics, and the Institute for Astronomy.

Dr. Lu is known for developing several new theoretical advances, pioneering a basic understanding of the underlying physics of solar flares. He is also known as the co-inventor of the Gravity Tractor, a practical and controllable means of deflecting asteroids. He has published articles in peer-reviewed journals on a wide range of topics including solar flares, cosmology, solar oscillations, statistical mechanics, plasma physics, and Near-Earth Asteroids.

Memberships: American Astronomical Society; Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; Experimental Aircraft Association.

Special Honors: Cornell University Presidential Scholar; Hughes Aircraft Company Masters Fellow; NASA Exceptional Service Medal; NASA Distinguished Service Medal; Gagarin Medal; Komorov Medal; Beregovoy Medal; 3 NASA Spaceflight medals