People Matter

Sr. Spacecraft Thermal Engineer

Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab

Long Beach, CA, USA
Posted on Thursday, August 24, 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


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 out of Rocket Lab’s global headquarters in Long Beach, 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

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

  • Bachelor’s degree in aerospace or mechanical engineering; or other engineering degree
  • 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. 

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)
$130,000$165,000 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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