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Senior Thermofluids Analyst - Electron

Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab

Auckland, New Zealand
Posted on Wednesday, September 13, 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

While other companies talk about it, we do it!


About the role

Rocket Lab’s analysis team contributes to the operation and development of Electron by using modelling and simulation to solve challenging problems involving dynamics, fluid flow, and thermodynamics. You will be the technical owner of propellant, pressure-loss and gas budgets and systems across the Electron launch Vehicle. Whether it is using CFD to predict the heating on the vehicle during ascent, 1D flow of propellants and gasses, or data analysis to demonstrate vehicle performance, analysis is critical to the operation and development of a robust launch vehicle.

As a Thermofluids Analyst in Rocket Lab’s Analysis team you will contribute to the analysis, design validation, and future improvements of Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle, Space Systems, and Space Components. Day to day, you will be expected to analyse flight data, define loads and environments, perform detailed simulations and physics-based analysis, guide design, and help validate analysis, design, and system performance through test. Scope of work may additionally extend to supporting launch and test ground systems, propulsion development, launch operations, and customer interaction.

Key Duties  

  • Perform, validate, and document CFD analyses of launch vehicle fluid systems including:
    • Compressible flow (choked flow, Aerodynamics)
    • Incompressible flow (internal, two phase)
  • Perform heat transfer simulations (conduction, convection and radiation) including:
    • Conduct integrated thermal analyses (ITAs) of spacecraft integrated to the Electron launch vehicle.
    • Component thermal analyses
    • Aeroheating thermal response
    • TPS specification
  • Perform, validate, and document thermofluid analyses of primary and secondary launch vehicle systems, including:
    • Model development and coding
    • Numerical Analysis
    • Material selection
    • Performance trade-off studies
    • Performance optimization
  • Work closely with design and test engineers to iterate through design concepts, determine test requirements, and demonstrate positive margins
  • Process and interpret ground test and flight data, including:
    • Determining if vehicle components remain within MPE bounds
    • Comparing sensor data across multiple flights to detect out-of-family results
    • Identifying and resolving sensor configuration issues (grounding, calibration, damage, naming etc.)
    • Using a strong understanding of physical principles (e.g., heat transfer, flow, cryogenics, pumps, etc.) to determine the root cause of vehicle anomalies through data analysis
  • Conduct peer reviews of analyses
  • Document data processing methodology thoroughly for peer review and sign-off
  • Produce Acceptance, Proto-qualification, and Qualification test levels through the consistent application of approved margining approaches
  • Support testing of vehicle subsystems through correlation of test and analysis results, and preparation of pre and post-test analysis reports
  • Standardise and catalogue analysis procedures in line with industry best practice
  • Ensure pump cavitation margin
  • Develop new and existing propellant dynamics models around temperature, gas rejection and control strategies
  • Contribute to the improvement and automation of test and flight data review

Essential skills

  • A degree in Mechanical, Aerospace Engineering or similar field
  • 5+ years industry experience, ideally from the Aerospace, Automotive or Marine industries
  • Strong understanding of physical principles (heat transfer, electronics, internal flow, aerodynamics, etc.)
  • Fluid engineering experience around pressure loss, valves and sensors
  • Demonstrated experience with one or more industry standard CFD packages: Fluent, CFX, STAR-CCM+
  • Experience in Python and associated scientific packages: numpy, pandas, scipy, matplotlib
  • Demonstrated thermal modelling of components, networks and lump masses
  • Experience with experimental test methods, sensor selection and data post-processing / interpretation (thermocouples, pressure transducers, accelerometers, strain gauges, microphones etc.)
  • The ability to work to deadlines within a high-pressure environment 

Desired Skills

  • Experience with dynamic thermofluid systems:
    • Propellant Dynamics (slosh, flow instabilities, Pogo)
    • Propellant level sensing and control strategies
    • Pumps, pressurisation systems and cryogenics experience
    • Thermodynamics of 2-phase, cryogenics or refrigeration systems
  • Compressible gas modelling of pressure vessels, pressurisation systems and piping
  • Knowledge around space thermal environments and modelling for both orbital and ascent environments
  • Thermal protection system design, specification and implementation.
  • Knowledge of HVAC system design and/or analysis.
  • Experience with one or more industry standard thermal modelling packages: Thermal Desktop, THERMICA, NX SST
  • Familiarity using Solidworks CAD and PDM packages (or comparable industry standard packages) with emphasis on model interrogation and defeaturing for subsequent analyses
  • Experience in Python package development and modelling (git, CI, deployment)
  • Familiarity with industry standards (e.g., MIL-STD-1540, GSFC-STD-7000, ECSS-E-HB-32, NASA-STD-5001) 

Rocket Lab Employee Benefits

  • The opportunity to work on innovative and groundbreaking technology
  • An employee stock purchase program
  • Access to world leading experts to develop your career
  • Unlimited barista coffee, fruit, and snacks
  • Rocket Lab merchandise – T-shirts, mission patches etc.
  • Discounted health insurance with Southern Cross
  • Additional parental leave entitlements
  • A vibrant team culture with social activities throughout the year

If the above sounds like you apply now!

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 [email protected].This 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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