People Matter

Principal GNC Engineer - Mission Mission Formulation

Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab

Long Beach, CA, USA
Posted on Saturday, August 26, 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.

Life at Rocket Lab


Based out of Rocket Lab’s site in Littleton, CO, Huntsville, AL or Long Beach, CA the GNC Mission Formulation Engineer is responsible for developing high-performance, launch vehicle systems in support of the Launch Systems Business Development and Strategy team. You will support the Director of Business Development and Strategy, and play a key role developing future missions for Electron and Neutron.

The Mission Formulation team works closely with other Engineering teams and Production to bring new concepts to life. As a Principal Engineer at Rocket Lab, you will be strongly influencing the design of the world's first mass-produced orbital launch vehicle. Given the high launch cadence of Electron and pace of Neutron development, you will have unparalleled opportunities for end-to-end hardware development and seeing your designs reach space.

Success in this position will be measured by the value of the knowledge and experience in launch vehicle design and mission experience that you bring into this role, your ability to lead design projects without supervision, successful collaboration with other teams across Rocket Lab, and the skillful prioritization of competing engineering development projects across the group.


  • Primary GNC contact to Business Development for proposal and mission concepts, including:
    • Electron and Neutron mission operational concept development
    • Orbital and suborbital trajectory design and analysis
    • Working with external stakeholders and customers for mission-specific requirements engineering
    • Documenting the proposed GNC solution and participating in design reviews with the customer
  • Work with the Rocket Lab GNC Engineers to:
    • Develop tools and processes for automating common proposal analysis tasks
    • Increase the fidelity of our proprietary 6DOF simulator via improved sensor and actuator characterization and modelling
    • Participate in program execution of Electron and Neutron system commissioning and calibration


  • Bachelor’s degree in engineering (Aerospace/Mechanical/Electrical Engineering)
  • 12+ years working experience in Engineering
  • Proven experience developing real-time control and/or estimation algorithms in autonomous vehicles, preferably launch vehicles
  • Active DoD US Government security clearance or, ability to obtain and maintain one.


  • Active clearance TS/SCI
  • A Masters degree or PHD in Physics or related engineering discipline.
  • Experience with requirements assessments and interface control document generation
  • Thorough understanding of orbital mechanics, rigid body dynamics, and kinematics
  • Solid understanding of closed-loop control, estimation, and electronic systems
  • Excellent communication skills, with the ability to build strong working relationships
  • Creative, analytical, good at problem solving
  • Ability to work on own initiative and to plan daily workflow to meet higher level tasks
  • Clear communication skills and calm under pressure

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)
$165,000$205,000 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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