People Matter

Senior Development Engineer - Composites

Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab

Auckland, New Zealand
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2024

About The Role


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 Neutron team is responsible for bringing our new large rocket Neutron and its launch and test sites to life. From designing and testing Neutron’s structures and components, to firing up its new Archimedes engines, to setting up Neutron’s launch pads and test sites across the United States, joining the Neutron team is your opportunity to help launch a new large rocket for the very first time.


Development Engineers deliver across a broad set of vehicle domains including structural (i.e. Propellant tanks, interstage, fairings), mechanical (i.e. stage separation, landing, aerodynamic control), fluid (i.e. pressurant, propellant management, ignition, HVAC), and thermal (i.e. thermal protection) systems.

This role will work directly with analysis and manufacturing engineers to produce concepts, detailed designs, and drawing packages for metallic and composites components & assemblies and to perform development & qualification tests, refine designs, and ensure Neutron’s materials, components, and assemblies meet their functional and performance requirements.


  • Produce & rapidly iterate conceptual designs in CAD for primary and secondary metallic and composite structures and mechanisms across the Neutron launch vehicle
  • Design elements including composite inserts, laminates, joint details, metallic interfaces, and secondary structural elements, working closely with analysts to ensure designs are appropriately sized and structural & thermal requirements are met
  • Prepare drawing packages & laminate books, working directly with the production team to ensure design for manufacture is maintained throughout the process
  • Lead the testing structures and mechanisms, including composites and metallic components, and integrated structural, mechanical and fluids assemblies
  • Develop test plans, monitor test activities, and post-process and document test data to verify functional and performance requirements
  • Develop and execute test activities to characterise structural materials, interfaces, and subcomponents
  • Produce test jigs / fixtures to aid with fabrication, assembly, and development testing of components & assemblies
  • Proactively identify and solve technical challenges to allow projects to proceed safely and at pace
  • Feed testing outcomes back into the design and manufacture process to promote continuous improvement
  • Mentor, and technically assist junior engineers


  • Aerospace, mechanical or mechatronic engineering degree or equivalent qualification
  • 5+ years developing and testing high performance mechanical systems, with a focus on structures and/or mechanisms
  • Experience with instrumentation selection, setup, post-processing, and interpretation of static & dynamic test data (load cells, accelerometers, strain gauges, pressure transducers etc.)
  • The ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines
  • Excellent communication skills and the ability to work well within a team environment
  • Sound analytical skills and the ability to see the big picture and making connections and appropriate decisions
  • Heavy emphasis on achievement and details – getting things done efficiently, effectively and to the highest quality standards
  • Have tenacity, a can-do attitude, and the ability to think quickly and make accurate judgements


  • Experience in one of the following domain areas:
    • Composites structures
    • Large scale structural testing
    • Cryogenic systems
    • Pressurised systems
  • Experience with CAD software such as NX (preferred), Solidworks, CATIA
  • Experience using Product Lifecycle Management software such as Teamcenter (preferred), Windchill, or similar
  • Experience using National Instruments data acquisition systems
  • Programming in C+, MATLAB, LabVIEW or other
  • Experience writing / reviewing safety risk assessments

If the above sounds like you apply now!


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.


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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