Sr. Spacecraft Thermal Engineer - TS/SCI Clearance

Sr. Spacecraft Thermal Engineer - TS/SCI Clearance

companyRocket Lab
locationLong Beach, CA, USA
PublishedPublished: 1/20/2024
Full Time


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 global headquarters in Long Beach, CA, the Sr. Spacecraft Thermal Engineer is responsible for overseeing the thermal design, analysis, testing, and validation of Rocket Lab’s space vehicles. You’ll be expected to perform thermal modeling and data analysis while working closely with the test and design engineers to capture the vehicle’s thermal performance and provide input for design improvements. You will support the Space Systems organization, with deliverables required for internal leadership, board of directors, and investors.


  • Complete thermal modeling and analysis of vehicles
  • Conduct thermal design trade studies that successfully balance performance margins, resource use, risk, cost, and schedule
  • Identify and resolve thermal design, acceptance, and performance issues for space vehicle components and assemblies
  • Design and execute thermal tests for space vehicle components and assemblies
  • Perform thermal model validation using test and in-flight data
  • Liaise with all levels of program and engineering staff on thermal design and test matters, and support other teams/disciplines as necessary
  • Identify and research potential vendors of thermal control materials


  • Bachelor’s degree in aerospace or mechanical engineering; or other engineering degree
  • Active TS/SCI clearance
  • 5+ years of thermal engineering experience
  • Experience with spacecraft or satellite development programs


  • Master’s or PhD in aerospace or mechanical engineering; or other engineering degree
  • Strong background in heat transfer
  • Experience with thermal systems and passive thermal management techniques
  • Familiarity using Siemens NX and Teamcenter, with emphasis on model interrogation and defeaturing for subsequent analyses
  • Demonstrated experience with Thermal Desktop
  • Experience with planning, execution, and data analysis of thermal balance tests
  • Strong communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Ability to work independently but also build strong working relationships with colleagues
  • Experience with constant conductance and variable conductance heat pipes
  • Experience working with multi-layer insulation: design, fabrication, installation, and test
  • Experience with 0-D and 1-D thermal/fluid networks
  • Familiarity with scripting languages such as Python and MATLAB
  • Familiarity with thermal engineering tools such as NX Space Systems Thermal, ANSYS, SINDA, and THERMICA
  • Knowledge of aspects of launch and on-orbit operations
  • Familiarity with orbital mechanics and attitude dynamics related to thermal analysis

The expected salary range for the position is displayed in accordance with the California Equal Pay for Equal Work Act. Final agreed upon compensation is based upon individual qualifications and experience. 

Base salary is only one part of Rocket Lab’s compensation package for this role. You may be eligible for company stock, stock options, or cash incentives, and can purchase discounted stock through Rocket Lab’s Employee Stock Purchase Program. Employee benefits may also include medical, dental, and vision insurance coverage; 401(k) retirement plan options; paid vacation, holidays, and sick leave; paid parental leave; and other discounts and perks.  

Base Pay Range (CA Only)$105,000—$205,000 USD


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 g.biow@rocketlabusa.com.This 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.