Operations Software Engineer

Job Ref: 4079656003 | Type: Full-time

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About The Role


Rocket Lab is the global leader in small satellite launch. Our mission is to open access to space to improve life on Earth. There are endless possibilities for what we can achieve with better access to space, and that access is now a reality thanks to Rocket Lab. Our team is 500 people strong and we’re adding to it every week. Collaboration is at our core - every idea is heard and everyone makes a difference. Teams are nimble, decisions are made quickly and we are action-oriented.

While other companies talk about it, we do it!

The Photon Program

Rocket Lab is seeking exceptional engineers to work on its Photon satellite program. Photon is a first-of-its-kind platform in the small satellite industry: a versatile satellite bus that is also an integral part of the launch vehicle. Photon is being developed to enable a broad range of missions in low-Earth orbit and beyond. Photon was recently selected by NASA to deploy a CubeSat to the Moon in 2021 as a pathfinder for Gateway, the program to return humans to the lunar surface.

Engineers within the Photon team have a unique opportunity to help shape this space system and, given the high launch cadence of Electron, have unparalleled opportunities for end-to-end software development and on-orbit operations. Your days will be spent developing software architecture, writing and testing software, and iterating based on lessons learned from your software running in space. The ideal candidate will have a strong software development background and will be familiar spacecraft and satellite systems.


Operations Software Engineer

Rocket Lab is seeking Operations Software Engineers to support development of back-end systems and services that enable on-orbit operations of Rocket Lab’s Photon satellites, including the lunar CAPSTONE mission in 2021.

The Spacecraft Operations team is responsible for maintaining the health and safety of Rocket Lab’s growing fleet of spacecraft and ensuring that mission objectives and SLAs are met. The team’s goal is to maximize the value Rocket Lab can create from a constantly changing fleet of diverse spacecraft. This unique challenge requires a set of backend services to support 24/7 automated operations.

The team is looking for talented software engineers that can build these services and grow them over time. These engineers will:

  • Develop backend services and tools to support activity planning for a fleet of on-orbit spacecraft
  • Build reliable infrastructure to support automated mission operations
  • Build software and tools to integrate and control ground station assets

Because operations at Rocket Lab is focused on automation, this engineer will need to develop services that are reliable and maintainable, while thriving in an agile environment where needs change often and software needs to grow to support new challenges. This person will be directly responsible for the design and implementation of new services (in Python, Ruby, Go, or other similar languages along with associated frameworks) for scheduling, command automation, and orbit propagation.

Additionally, because reliability and adaptability are key, this person must be fluent with modern development techniques like CI/CD, TDD, and version control (git). The Operations Software Engineer will also need to provide DevOps support as the team grows. This includes setting up and maintaining cloud infrastructure and working with the IT team to deploy and run services.

Spacecraft Operations Software Engineers report to the Spacecraft Operations Lead. The Spacecraft Operations group is responsible for on-orbit operation of Rocket Lab spacecraft after launch and orbit injection and works directly with the launch team for mission planning and operational support. This role interacts often with Flight Software and other ground software teams to develop interfaces and perform regular planning.



  • Works with the operations team, fight software, IT, and ground support to build services that support the full cycle of satellite operations
  • Regularly solicits feedback and iterates on designs with systems engineers, operations team members, and other stakeholders.
  • Support rigorous/challenging schedules during launch windows and early Photon operations.
  • Help build an agile, modern software team
  • Reports on metrics, SLAs, and SLOs like uptime, performance, and cloud resource utilization
  • Reports to the Spacecraft Operations Lead
  • Works with the operations team to develop workflows and processes that are robust and support Rocket Lab’s growing fleet of spacecraft


  • 3 to 5 years of Python experience required.
  • Expertise in software development for backend services
  • Expert in a high-level programming language (preferably Python) 
  • Experience working with continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) workflows and modern tools (git, Gitlab/Github, Docker) and test-driven development
  • Will lead the design, implementation, iteration, and support of one or more critical back-end services for spacecraft operation
  • Fills gaps and takes action rather than waiting for detailed requirements, complete documentation, or technical support
  • Automation focus rather than “traditional” approaches of manual checks and detailed procedures
  • “Digs in” and learns new systems quickly
  • Ability to present and make data-driven decisions / recommendations.
  • Ability to make prioritize and make decisions with limited information


  • Cloud infrastructure and DevOps experience.
  • Knowledge of Postgres/RDS/MySQL or similar.
  • Exposure to or interest in developing knowledge of aerospace fundamentals.


To conform to U.S. Government space technology export regulations, applicant must be a U.S. citizen as defined by ITAR (22 CFR §120.15) or eligible to obtain the required authorizations from the U.S. 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.

IND123 #CB

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