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Senior Satellite GNC Engineer

Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab

Long Beach, CA, USA
Posted on Friday, April 28, 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.

Space Systems

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 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 flight and ground software as a service in Denver. Our component’s business is key to vertically integrating our spacecraft solutions and enabling constellations for customers.


The Senior GNC Satellite ADCS Engineer is responsible for the design, implementation, testing, and operation of attitude determination and control systems (ADCS) as well as guidance, navigation, and control (GNC) systems utilized in Photon and other Rocket Lab vehicles.


  • Design and development of GNC and ADCS Software, particularly:
  • Satellite simulation software.
  • ADCS algorithms and implementation in flight software.
  • Maneuver and operation sequencing and command creation.
  • Data processing software for GNC purposes (MATLAB/Python Post-Processing Tools)
  • Develop and maintain an accurate understanding of the needs of the rest of the organization with respect to GNC, ADCS, and Satellite simulation software.
  • Take ownership of software, satellite projects or analysis as required by the GNC Manager and Chief Space Systems Engineer and see them through to completion.
  • Mission requirements engineering, including detailed sensor and actuator characterization and modelling.
  • Assisting with satellite operations including flight dynamics, fault-finding, contingency planning and command validation.
  • On-orbit GNC and ADCS system calibration and commissioning.
  • Hardware-in-the-loop test planning, execution and validation.
  • Review software merge requests and ensure all new GNC Software meets our internal software standard.
  • Follow GNC Team coding standards.
  • Identify and implement process improvements to aid the efficiency of the GNC Team.
  • Provide oversight and guidance for sensor and actuator testing and model validation
  • Mentor and support junior team members
  • International travel is required


  • Masters or Ph.D. in Aerospace, Mechanical, or Electrical Engineering, or comparable field.
  • 4+ years’ experience developing attitude determination and control algorithms, and/or guidance and navigation algorithms.
  • 5+ years’ experience developing in Python or MATLAB
  • 4+ years’ experience developing in C++ including some embedded or high reliability development.
  • Thorough understanding of orbital mechanics, rigid body dynamics, and kinematics
  • Solid understanding of closed-loop control, estimation, and electronic systems.
  • The ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines
  • Excellent communication skills with the ability to build strong working relationships


  • Ph.D. in Aerospace, Mechanical, or Electrical engineering, or a comparable field.
  • Previous development of real-time control and/or estimation algorithms in autonomous vehicles, preferably satellites.
  • Experience with Git version control.
  • Experience working in a continuous integration environment.
  • Experience with Simulink.
  • Experience working within an Agile/Scrum based workflow.
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 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 (CA Only)
$120,000$165,000 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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