Lead Systems Engineer

Job Ref: 4011206003 | Type: Full-time

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About The Role

Why Rocket Lab?

"Make everything you do a work of art." - Peter Beck

The global leader in small satellite launch, Rocket Lab's mission is to open access to Space to improve life on Earth. Our teams are nimble, action-oriented, and everyone makes a difference. While other companies talk about it, we do it!


A first-of-its-kind platform in the small satellite industry: Photon, a versatile satellite platform, is a planned evolution of the Rocket Lab Kick Stage. With Photon, Rocket Lab now delivers an all-inclusive spacecraft and launch service. Customers bring their payload and we do the rest, taking care of the complete satellite design, build and launch as a bundled and streamlined experience.

Equipped with an S-band communication system, a high-fidelity attitude control system, and a robust avionics suite, Photon is the complete spacecraft solution for a range of LEO missions, from constellation development, through to technology demonstrations and hosted payloads.

As a result of Rocket Labs high launch cadence, engineers within the Photon team will have a unique opportunity for continued end-to-end hardware development and on-orbit operations. 

Systems Engineer, Lead

Reporting to the Photon Program Chief Engineer, the Lead Systems Engineer will work collaboratively with team members across all subsystems. The systems engineering group is responsible for the overall technical architecture of the vehicle and for overall development of the vehicle, from initial concept definition through on-orbit operations. Specific areas of work include, but are not limited to, development and maintenance of technical budgets, requirements definition, test planning and execution, various analysis and simulations, management of the overall systems engineering process and application, and managing subcontractors and vendors.  

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Develop and manage key program documentation, such as requirements and verification artifacts, vehicle-level ICDs, and ConOps documents. 
  • Various analyses using Matlab/Python and STK
  • Execute trade studies and make design decisions across the program
  • Triage anomalies and track/mitigate risks, as applicable 
  • Develop on-orbit operations plans and participate in on-orbit operations
  • Assist in program management tasks such as schedule development and tracking

Required Skills

  • Understanding of key spacecraft subsystems and their associated components, including attitude determination and control, spacecraft electrical power systems, space-ground communications, on-orbit command and data handling, and thermal control. 
  • Thorough understanding of the space environment, orbital mechanics, and rigid body dynamics. 
  • Expertise in Matlab/Python/equivalent.
  • Proficiency with STK. 
  • Demonstrated success working in a dynamic environment with multiple priorities.
  • Experience with requirements management tools such as JAMA or DOORS

Required Education & Experience

  • A Bachelor of Science degree (or greater) in Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, or equivalent. 
  • 4+ years of experience specifically on small satellite development programs, which can be anywhere from initial design through on-orbit operations

Preferred Skills

  • Previous experience in design through operations of another satellite program
  • Experience testing electrical subsystems and assemblies
  • Experience with environmental testing, such as thermal vacuum or random vibration testing
  • Experience with satellite operations
  • Experience with hardware-in-the-loop testing

Additional Information

  • Able to travel to New Zealand, if necessary. 

Important Information:

To conform to US Government space technology export regulations, applicants must be a US citizen, lawful permanent resident of the US, protected individual as defined by 8 USC 1324b(a)(3), or eligible to obtain the required authorization from the US Department of State.

Rocket Lab USA is an Equal Opportunity Employer, employment with Rocket Lab USA is governed on the basis of merit, competence and qualifications and will not be influenced in any manner by race, color, religion, gender, national origin/ethnicity, veteran status, disability status, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, mental or physical disability or any other legally protected status.

For security reasons background checks will be undertaken prior to any employment offers being made to an applicant.  These checks will include nationality checks as it is a requirement of this position that you be eligible to access equipment and data regulated by the United States’ International Traffic in Arms Regulations.  Under these Regulations, you may be ineligible for this role if you do not hold citizenship of Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, the European Union or a country that is part of NATO, or if you hold ineligible dual citizenship or nationality. For more information on these Regulations, click here.

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