People Matter

Principal GNC Engineer

Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab

Littleton, CO, USA
Posted on Thursday, May 4, 2023

About The Role

Rocket Lab is a vertically integrated provider of small launch services, satellites, and spacecraft components. Our mission is to open access to space to improve life on Earth. Our team is over 1,500 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.


This is a rare opportunity to play a key role in Rocket Lab’s evolution into an end-to-end space company that delivers launch, spacecraft, and on-orbit operations. The Space Systems Division is shaping Rocket Lab’s future with Photon, our brand of high-performance satellites, enabling innovative missions in low Earth orbit and beyond including missions for NASA to LEO, the Moon, and Mars and commercial customers, including leading the design and manufacture of 17 high-power telecommunication spacecraft buses for Globalstar.

Rocket Lab is also growing our spacecraft components business, anchored on the acquisition of Sinclair Interplanetary manufacturing reaction wheels and star trackers in Toronto, SolAero Technologies manufacturing solar power and primary structure solutions in Albuquerque, Planetary Systems Corporation manufacturing launch separation systems in Silver Spring, and Advanced Solutions, Inc., provider of flight and ground software as a service in Denver. Our components business is key to vertically integrating our spacecraft solutions and enabling constellations for customers.


Based at ASI by Rocket Lab’s facility in Littleton, Colorado, the Principal GNC Engineer must demonstrate a firm grasp of spacecraft Guidance, Navigation, and Control concepts and applications, including mission trajectory design, flight dynamics, and orbit determination. You will support the GNC Lead of our two NASA CLPS missions delivering lunar landers and orbiters to the Moon in 2024 and 2026.


  • Work in a fast-paced, agile GNC team to design, test, and operate multiple lunar spacecraft
  • Design and analyze complex space mission trajectories
  • Design and develop software and processes to execute spacecraft orbit determination and maneuver planning events
  • Process radiometric ranging data to perform spacecraft orbit determination
  • Analyze and integrate vision navigation systems
  • Manage delta-V and propellant budgets
  • Develop GNC operations products for application across multiple missions
  • Design and develop GNC flight and simulation software and test suites
  • Perform Monte Carlo analysis of key mission risk areas

YOU’LL BRING THESE QUALIFICATIONS (Note: you must meet every qualification in order to be considered):

  • Bachelor’s in aerospace, mechanical, or electrical engineering, or other technical discipline, and 12+ years of experience in orbital mechanics, trajectory design, maneuver planning, and orbit determination; OR master’s/PhD in aerospace, mechanical, or electrical engineering, or other technical discipline, and 10+ years of experience
  • 5+ years of experience developing attitude determination and control and/or guidance and navigation algorithms
  • 5+ years of experience developing in Python or MATLAB
  • 2+ years of experience operating spacecraft
  • Experience with STK Astrogator, ODTK, POST, OTIS, or similar tools
  • Experience developing in C++


  • Solid understanding of closed-loop control, estimation, and electronic systems
  • Experience with interplanetary or lunar spacecraft missions
  • Experience developing embedded or high reliability software in C++
  • Experience with Git version control
  • Experience working in a continuous integration environment
  • Experience working within an Agile/Scrum based workflow
  • Ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines
  • Excellent communication skills, with the ability to build strong working relationships
The expected salary range for the position is displayed in accordance with the Colorado Equal Pay for Equal Work Act. Final agreed upon compensation is based upon individual qualifications and experience.

In addition to base salary, Rocket Lab offers a comprehensive total compensation offer package based on individual qualifications and experience, including company stock. Employees will also be eligible for medical, dental, vision coverage, 401(k) retirement plan options, and to purchase discounted stock through Rocket Lab's Employee Stock Purchase Program.
Base Pay Range (CO Only)
$150,000$175,000 USD

Important information:


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 fromthe U.S Department of State.

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.


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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