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Spacecraft Mechanical Design Lead

Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab

Long Beach, CA, USA
Posted on Thursday, August 17, 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


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, CA, the Spacecraft Mechanical Design Lead is a hands-on functional managing position that reports to the Space Vehicle Design Director. Your team will have 6 to 10 direct reports, and you will need to guide and mentor them while working alongside them on spacecraft development programs. You will also need to communicate your technical strategy and work cross-functionally on projects with almost every other engineering team.

Our ideal candidate is someone with a strong mechanical and structural background who has previously led spacecraft mechanical development programs. They will have expertise in designing, analyzing, building, and testing spacecraft structures and mechanisms. They will have successfully led engineering teams through challenging projects and will be comfortable working in a fast-paced development environment.


  • Perform functional management duties including 1-on-1s, performance reviews, and supporting their career development
  • Coach and mentor engineers on your team
  • Conduct peer reviews of designs and review drawings
  • Perform duties as an individual contributor, including independent design and development work and organizing teams of engineers to execute larger projects
  • Work with cross-discipline teams (i.e. Supply Chain, Assembly Integration & Test, Production, Quality) to ensure smooth interfaces and handoffs within the greater Space Systems organization
  • Work closely with mechanical engineers, test engineers, and production to iterate through design concepts, with a focus on design-for-manufacture and design-for-integration
  • Develop and maintain design standards, documentation templates, test specifications, and other processes

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 discipline
  • 5+ years of engineering experience in the aerospace industry
  • Experience in a team lead, manager, or technical leader role


  • Master’s or PhD in aerospace or mechanical engineering; or other engineering discipline
  • Expertise in Siemens NX and Teamcenter
  • Expertise in CAD, drafting, and GD&T
  • Multiple successes in bringing spacecraft hardware from concept through launch
  • Direct experience bringing spacecraft assemblies through environmental testing
  • Demonstrable methodological approach to spacecraft design and mechanical development programs
  • High proficiency in multiple areas of physics-based analysis and testing
  • Comfort executing to aggressive deadlines within a high-pressure environment
  • Effective communication skills and the ability to build strong working relationships with colleagues and engineering professionals
  • Experience with fabrication processes, including CNC machining and additive manufacturing
  • Experience in design and analysis of composites (laminate design, joint design, materials characterization and selection, environmental effects)
  • Experience in design and development of any of the following: spacecraft assemblies, space mechanisms and deployables, spacecraft avionics, and propulsion systems
  • Experience in spacecraft structural dynamics in one or more of the following areas: environments and loads, random vibration, sine vibration, acoustic, and modal testing and/or analysis
  • Experience with non-linear material simulation, including metal plasticity, elastomers, and adhesive joints

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, 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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