Intern Rockets


Summer interns at many ULA sites have the option to design, build, refurbish and launch sport rockets. The tradition began in Colorado and branched out to interns across the company supporting multi-year rocket projects. Now, volunteer interns and mentors build rockets at their own sites –a hands-on opportunity to work with hardware and get to know more experienced industry professionals.

Interns of all backgrounds, experience levels and job function can participate – mentors work with everyone to create safe, hands-on experiences for everyone.


Hands-on STEM from kindergarten through graduate school

In Colorado, ULA teams up with Ball Aerospace to support the Student Rocket Launch -- a hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) project for students from kindergarten through graduate school. Summer interns at ULA and Ball can volunteer their time to build several rockets (ULA interns) and payloads (Ball interns) to be launched at the end of the summer. Elementary, middle and high school student teams can apply to build payloads.

The Student Rocket Launch simulates a real launch campaign so the interns can experience what the process looks like from start to finish on a smaller scale. United Launch Alliance’s real-life launch campaigns stretch over several years, and the Student Rocket Launch compacts that into seven to ten weeks.

To celebrate the program’s 10th anniversary in 2018, K-12 teams can design, build and operate a payload to guide it to a designated ground-based target for a chance to win up to $5,000 for their school or sponsoring nonprofit.

In order to mimic real launches where boosters land in the ocean and to add some complexity to the competition, the 41-foot-tall Future Heavy is planned to be launched over a reservoir so teams will have to find creative solutions to successfully recover their payloads in spite of the water obstacle. Ten payload slots can participate in a payload competition, with the top three teams winning cash prizes. An additional 10 slots will be reserved for teams not wanting to compete but who want to build a payload.

Submitting Payload Applications

Payload applications are closed for the 2018 launch, but 2018 timeline, technical specifications and contact information are included in the Payload Proposal Form

2018 Timeline

  • Jan. 31, 2018: Deadline to submit the completed Payload Proposal Form
  • Feb. 7, 2018: ULA will notify proposal team leaders about selection
  • Mid-June 2018: Payloads delivered/shipped to ULA
  • July 2018: Student Rocket Launch event

2017 Student Rocket Launch

Additional Information



Rocket Science



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United Launch Alliance Building Rocket of the Future with Industry-Leading Strategic Partnerships

United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) next-generation rocket - the Vulcan Centaur - is making strong progress in development and is on track for its initial flight in mid-2020.