Michael Gass

President and CEO, United Launch Alliance

What’s your handicap?


Do you have any memberships?

Columbine Country Club, where I play about once a week for fresh air, exercise and good friends.

What’s the best part of your job?

You can’t have any more fun in the aerospace and engineering field than launching rockets. We launch anywhere from 15 to 20 rockets each year, mostly for the U.S. Air Force and NASA. Every launch success is a highlight and an adrenaline rush.

How did you get into this field?

I got excited about rockets as an eight-year-old kid building models. To build today the same rocket that John Glenn went up on 50 years ago is pretty exciting.

What is the future of the space program and the ULA?

Space is an integral part of our economy, and we depend on it for our national security. We’re in the job of delivering things to space and exploring space, so there’s always going to be a need for a device that fights gravity and gets us away from earth’s pull. It’s an untapped frontier.

How are golf and rocket science similar?

You can correlate golf discipline with good engineering discipline, and you can tell a lot about an individual by the way he plays the game. If you have a disciplined golfer who really knows about his setup and swing, you can count on his engineering and work practice being the same.

As an engineer, what most fascinates you about golf?

I try not to mix business and pleasure, so I don’t overanalyze the game and just enjoy using it to clear the brain.

Are you into golf equipment?

Obviously there’s lot’s of technology and composite materials involved in golf equipment, and I recognize where that technology comes from, but with my swing, it really doesn’t make a difference. 

Which is easier?

Golf isn’t rocket science. Rocket science is easier.

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