People Matter

Lead Combustion Engineer

Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab

Long Beach, CA, USA
Posted on Wednesday, August 23, 2023

About The Role

Rocket Lab

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.

Life at Rocket Lab


Neutron is a medium lift launch vehicle capable of delivering the mega constellations of tomorrow, high assurance payloads, and human spaceflight. As a highly reusable launch platform, Neutron will deliver a highly cost-effective and reliable launch solution leveraging Rocket Lab’s proven execution history with the Electron program. If you’re interested in joining a high performing team and pushing the boundaries of humanity with a clean sheet, reusable launch vehicle, this is your opportunity! 


The Lead Combustion Engineer position is based out of Rocket Lab's headquarters in Long Beach, CA. This person will lead a high performing team that is responsible for the design and development of all combustion devices for the Archimedes engine that powers both the first and second stage of the Neutron launch vehicle. You will support the Neutron program and Archimedes team with combustion device designs and hardware to enable vehicle development, testing and flight. 


  • Guide a small team of combustion device experts through the early stages of the Neutron program
  • Serve as technical expert for combustion devices in engine design discussions
  • Own critical combustion designs, analysis and other technical details as needed to support the objectives of the team
  • Provide strategy on development plans including what hardware to build and how tests are performed in order to maximize the program’s available resources towards meaningful progress on Neutron
  • Build and maintain relationships with key vendors and contractors as needed through the engine development lifecycle
  • Collaborate heavily with Rocket Lab manufacturing teams to ensure combustion devices are producible and test and flight objectives can be met
  • Support engine and sub-system testing both remotely and onsite as needed at Stennis as well as other test facilities


  • Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering or related field
  • 5+ years of liquid rocket engine design & test experience 
  • Fundamental understanding of critical aspects of combustion device design including performance, durability, reliability, and manufacturability
  • Experience successfully leading a team through a challenging technical project or program


  • 10+ years of experience in combustion device development & testing
  • Master’s or PhD in aerospace or mechanical engineering
  • Experience with a range of thrust chamber, propellant injector and manifold designs both theoretically and in production
  • Extensive experience leading teams of engineers to successful outcomes on challenging projects with tight timelines and budgets
  • Deep knowledge of manufacturing processes including CNC mill/lathe, welding, additive, etc.
  • Strong fundamentals of structural mechanics, fatigue and fracture. Experience with structural analysis, fatigue and fracture calculations.
  • Strong fluid flow and heat transfer fundamentals
  • Professional design experience with Siemens NX and Teamcenter


  • Ability to travel and communicate outside of work hours
  • Must be able to work extended hours and/or weekends as needed 

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. 

In addition to base salary, Rocket Lab offers a comprehensive total compensation package based on individual qualifications and experience, which may include cash or equity incentives. 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 (CA Only)
$135,000$160,000 USD

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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