Senior R&D Engineer

Job Ref: 4843620003 | Type: Full-time

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About The Role


Rocket Lab is a global leader in launch and space systems. The rockets and satellites we build and launch enable some of the most ambitious and vital space missions globally, supporting scientific exploration, Earth observation and missions to combat climate change, national security, and exciting new technology demonstrations. Our Electron rocket has provided reliable access to orbit since 2018, becoming one of the most frequently launched rockets in the world. Neutron will be our next rocket on the launch pad, an advanced 13-tonne payload class, reusable rocket to launch the mega constellations of the future. Our space systems business includes our extensive line of satellites and components that have enabled more than 1,700 missions including the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA Psyche Mission, Artemis I, Mars Ingenuity helicopter, and more.  

Join our pioneering team and launch your career to new heights!


Rocket Lab’s Space Systems team is responsible for every satellite and satellite component made by Rocket Lab: from complete satellites destined for missions to the Moon and Mars, to the individual components and subsystems that make up a satellite like solar panels, flight software, reaction wheels and star trackers, separation systems, radios, and more. Our Space Systems team is made up of engineers, technicians, and designers who design, create, and put together our own satellites for missions across the commercial, government, and defense sectors, or who build and assemble satellite hardware and software that supports other satellite missions.


Based out of Rocket Lab's site in Albuquerque, NM, the Senior R&D Engineer will be a part of an integrated products R&D group that is responsible for the development of new solar panel products and new process development. You will support the R&D group by solving multi-disciplinary design problems related to new missions, new materials, and new product development.


  • Design, build, and test functional space hardware that powers a wide range of missions and impacts nearly every person on the planet.
  • Make hands-on contributions to real hardware that operates in space.
  • Develop space solar power technology that is among the highest efficiency and lightest ever made.
  • Advance the state of the art in space solar technology.
  • Participate in and lead hardware design projects from concept to production.
  • Develop, qualify and implement new assembly processes including new equipment and advanced automation.
  • Work with and lead multidisciplinary project teams.
  • Participate in strategic product road-mapping.
  • Become a subject matter expert in various areas of expertise.
  • Use organizational skills for leading project teams, managing multiple concurrent projects, and planning, prioritizing and documenting work.
  • Develop a strong theoretical understanding of the science and engineering principles that underpin space solar panels and assembly equipment, and use that knowledge to train others, recommend improvements, and conduct meaningful experiments.
  • Solve multi-disciplinary electrical, thermal, mechanical, and materials problems for space solar panel products that have to survive in multi-effects environments.
  • Use failure analysis methods such as five why, fishbone diagrams, root cause analysis, and FMEA to identify potential causes of failures and develop solutions.
  • Document and communicate work product using written and spoken reports and presentations.


  • Bachelor's degree in mechanical or aerospace engineering
  • 5+ years of experience in mechanical design
  • Experience in new product or new hardware development


  • Master's or PhD in a relevant subject matter
  • Experience with space solar panels and systems
  • Experience designing mechanical systems for use in the space environment.
  • Proficiency using SolidWorks for design concepting and basic analysis.
  • Proficiency in geometric dimensioning and tolerancing
  • Experience in the management of technical projects
  • Strong communication skills, with ability to work with multidisciplinary project teams and interact with people of different skillsets, job functions, and abilities.
  • Strong organizational skills with the ability to lead projects, manage multiple concurrent projects, and plan, prioritize, and document work.
  • Experience and acumen in solving multi-disciplinary electrical, thermal, mechanical, and materials problems for space solar panel products that must survive in multi-effects environments.


  • Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, distance vision, peripheral vision, depth perception, and the ability to focus.   
  • Regularly required to sit, use hands and fingers, operate computer keyboard and controls, and communicate verbally and in writing.  
  • Must be physically able to commute to buildings 
  • Occasional exposure to dust, fumes and moderate levels of noise. 


We’re on a mission to unlock the potential of space to improve life on Earth, but that’s not an easy task. It takes hard work, determination, relentless innovation, teamwork, grit, and an unwavering commitment to achieving what others often deem impossible. Our people out-think, out-work and out-pace. We pride ourselves on having each other’s backs, checking our egos at the door, and rolling up our sleeves on all tasks big and small. We thrive under pressure, work to tight deadlines, and our focus is always on how we can deliver, rather than dwelling on the challenges that stand in the way.   

Important information:


To conform to U.S. Government space technology export regulations, including the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), Rocket Lab Employees must be a U.S. citizen, lawful U.S. permanent resident (i.e., current Green Card holder), or lawfully admitted into the U.S. as a refugee or granted asylum, or be eligible to obtain the required authorizations from the U.S. Department of State and/or the U.S. Department of Commerce, as applicable. Learn more about ITAR here.

Rocket Lab provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment and prohibits discrimination and harassment of any type without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability status, genetics, protected veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local laws. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment at Rocket Lab, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation and training.

Applicants requiring a reasonable accommodation for the application/interview process for a job in the United States should contact Giulia Biow at dedicated resource is intended solely to assist job seekers with disabilities whose disability prevents them from being able to apply/interview. Only messages left for this purpose will be considered. A response to your request may take up to two business days.



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 ITAR Regulations.


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