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Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Internships

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Phone: (202) 334-3477
Fax: (202) 334-3701

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Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Internships

“My internship with the Space Studies Board taught me more about space policy and the ways of Washington than I ever could have learned in the classroom.  As a science major, it was particularly exciting to have a front row seat in watching decisions being made that will shape my field of study for years to come.”
 Abigail Fraeman, SSB Intern & Ph.D. Candidate, 2009


capitol_thumbnailAs part of its celebration of the 50th anniversary of its founding, the Space Studies Board (SSB) has expanded the scope of the Space Policy Intern program it has operated since 1992 by initiating the Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Internships. The goal of the program is to provide promising undergraduate and graduate students with the opportunity to work in the area of civil space research policy in the Nation's capital, under the aegis of the SSB. The Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Internships are offered twice annually.

Established in 1958 to serve as the focus of the interests and responsibilities in space research for the National Academies, the Board provides an independent, authoritative forum for information and advice on all aspects of space science and applications, and it serves as the focal point within the National Academies for activities on space research. It oversees advisory studies and program assessments, facilitates international research coordination, and promotes communications on space science and science policy between the research community, the federal government, and the interested public. The SSB also serves as the U.S. National Committee for the International Council for Science (ICSU) Committee on Space Research (COSPAR).

Interns typically undertake one or more short-term research projects designed to assist with or to enhance ongoing study projects. The projects undertaken by the SSB standing committees and ad hoc task groups are in constant flux, with studies being completed and new studies beginning on a regular basis. Although this makes it difficult to predict just what the interns will get to work on, it also ensures their exposure to the different stages of the study process –from project initiation, through the committee process, and the final publication of committee reports - as several studies are being undertaken simultaneously. Please visit the SSB projects and committees sites for more information on our current activities.

“My internship experience gave me exposure to many of the issues that come to play where space policy is involved. I felt like I was in the middle of everything – where academia, government and the private sector interact. I return home excited at the prospect of pursuing a future in this field.”
--- Laura Delgado, Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Intern, 2008

News and Announcements 

Berkner Summer Program 2019 (Undergraduate Students only)
The deadline for submitting applications is February 4, 2019; selections will be made by March 4, 2019. Applications closed.

Berkner Autumn Program 2019 (Undergraduate and Graduate Students)

The deadline for submitting applications is June 3, 2019; selections will be made by July 8, 2019. Applications open.

Learn about our Past Interns

Eligibility requirements:

  • Be a registered student (undergraduate or graduate) at a U.S. university or college;
  • Completed his/her junior year, majoring in physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology, or geology (other areas considered on a case-by-case basis);
  • Have long-term career goals in space science research, applications, or policy;
  • Possess good written and verbal communications skills and a good knowledge of his/her particular area of study;
  • Be capable of responding to general guidance and working independently;
  • Be familiar with the internet, world-wide web and basic research techniques; and
  • Familiarity with Microsoft Word is highly desirable, but not essential.



All applicants must provide the following five items:

  1. A resumé;
  2. A brief statement (not to exceed one printed page) indicating academic interests and experience, and some indication of how the internship relates to the applicants long-term career plans;
  3. Letters of references from three college/university faculty members familiar with the candidate’s background and abilities; and
  4. An official copy of academic transcript to be sent from the college/university registrar.
  5. Complete the NRC Internship online employment application form.

Items 1 and 2 may be sent by e-mail to David H. Smith.
Items 3 and 4 MUST be sent by mail to the contact address listed below:

Space Studies Board
National Research Council
Attention: David H. Smith
Keck 968
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
202/334-3701 (fax)

Item 5 is filled out and submitted electronically via the link above.

Additional information:

Time Frame:
The length of time for the summer and autumn internship, from beginning to end, is a minimum of 10 weeks. The start date is mutually agreed upon by the intern and the Board. The average start dates for the summer program have been mid-June to early-July and the end dates, late-August to mid-September. The Autumn programs start and end dates are by mutual agreement.

Salary range:
$14.50- 18.00 per hour

The Space Studies Board does not provide housing for interns. However there are many options that interns can look into, including universities throughout the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland, youth hostels, long-term residence apartments, and subleasing possibilities, as well. Follow the links below for more information.

The Washington Intern Student Housing (WISH) is a unique semester housing program. Located throughout historic Capitol Hill neighborhoods with wide, tree-lined streets, WISH housing is a thoughtful choice for students who desire a location close to the nation's Capitol, Congressional offices, Library of Congress, the Supreme Court, and metro stations. Visit the WISH site. WISH has a no-fee application that can be faxed or e-mailed to its office.

Check local university housing information pages:

Also search the online classifieds at The Washington Post (also look for the Campus Overload Blog discussing life as an intern in Washington, DC) and The City Paper.


  • What is the Space Studies Board and what does it do?

The Space Studies Board (SSB) is the principal advisory group providing independent scientific and programmatic advice to NASA and other government agencies on all aspects of civil space research and associated ground-based activities.

Its origins date back to the period following the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957, when the pace and scope of U.S. space activity dramatically increased. Congress created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to implement the nation's ambitious space agenda, and the National Academy of Sciences created the SSB to provide advice relating to the definition of that agenda. The original charter of the SSB was established in June 1958, three months before final legislation creating NASA was enacted.

The Space Science Board and its successor, the Space Studies Board, have provided expert advice to NASA on a continuous basis from NASA's inception until the present.

  • Is the Space Studies Board part of the federal government?

No. It is a part of the National Research Council (NRC), the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). The NRC is administered by both academies and by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

The NAS was created in 1863 by a congressional charter approved by President Abraham Lincoln. Its function is to advise the government on scientific and technological matters. Under the terms of this charter, the NAS established the NRC in 1916, the NAE in 1964, and the IOM in 1970.

These four entities, which collectively are called the National Academies, are private, nongovernmental, organizations, and do not receive direct federal appropriations for their work. Studies undertaken by the SSB are funded out of appropriations made available to federal agencies such as NASA, NOAA, and NSF.

To find out more, go to About the Academies.

  • Who can apply to the program?

The SSB internship program is aimed at undergraduate and graduate students interested in the research and policy aspects of space science and applications. The minimum qualifications include: must be a registered student at a U.S. university or college; have completed his/her junior year; have long-term career goals in space-science research, applications, or policy; possess good written and verbal communications skills and a good knowledge of in his/her particular area of study; be capable of responding to general guidance and working independently; and be familiar with the internet, world-wide web and basic research techniques.

  • Where will I work?

Space Studies Board interns will work in the Washington, DC offices of the NRC located at the Keck Center, 500 5th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001. For directions to National Academies’ locations, please visit the Contact Information and Directions page.

  • Will I work on projects related to my particular area of interest or experience?

No. While the projects assigned to the interns may be tailored to their particular interests and abilities, the main purpose of the internship is to expose them to a range of current space-policy issues and, thus, broaden their experience. A prospective applicant should not apply for the program if they are only willing to work in their field.

  • Is the Space Studies Board internship program open to non-U.S. citizens?

F-1 students may participate using curricular practical training (CPT) or optional practical training (OPT). They must provide an I-20 form, showing approval by the Designated School Official (DSO) for CPT or OPT, and permission to come to Washington, DC, for the time period required to participate in this program, and that you are allowed to receive the stipend. A copy of your Employment Authorization Card (EAD) is required if you are using OPT.

J-1 students must provide a DS-2019 from showing authorization for academic training by the university's J-1 Responsible Officer (RO).

The opportunities offered by the Space Studies Board are internships and not employment by the National Academies. For that reason, participants may not hold B-1, or H-1B, TN, O-1, L-1 or other similar employment-related visas. Applicants with valid F-1, J-1, asylee, refugee, adjustment applicant or U.S. lawful permanent resident status are eligible to apply. Certain other categories are considered individually.

  • Will the Space Studies Board provide travel expenses in addition to the salary?


  • Can I do a shortened internship?

No, preference will be given to applicants who remain for a minimum of 10 weeks. Extension beyond 10 weeks may be possible, subject to the availability of funds.

  • Are these internships available every summer?

The summer program was initiated in 1992 and has been offered every year since that time and we hope it will continue every summer. Autumn internships have been available on an ad hoc basis since 2005. Continuance of the program is determined by budgetary and other considerations.

  • Are there other opportunities at the SSB?

Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows interested in working for the Space Studies Board should investigate the possibilities opened up by the National Academies’ Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Graduate Fellowship Program. This program is offered two times per year.

Those interested in an intern opportunity with the Space Studies Board at times other than during the summer and autumn months should submit items 1 through 4 under “How to Apply.” Applicants should indicate their availability. Please note that preference will be given to candidates available for a minimum of 8 weeks.

Those interested in volunteering their services to the Space Studies Board at any time during the year should contact Dr. David H. Smith.