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Spacecraft Mechanical Design Lead

Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab

This job is no longer accepting applications

See open jobs at Rocket Lab.
Long Beach, CA, USA
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 Space Systems team is responsible for every satellite and satellite component made by Rocket Lab: from complete satellites destined for missions to the Moon and Mars, to the individual components and subsystems that make up a satellite like solar panels, flight software, reaction wheels and star trackers, separation systems, radios, and more. Our Space Systems team is made up of engineers, technicians, and designers who design, create, and put together our own satellites for missions across the commercial, government, and defense sectors, or who build and assemble satellite hardware and software that supports other satellite missions.


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


  • Bachelor’s degree in aerospace or mechanical engineering; or other engineering discipline
  • 5+ years of experience in the space industry
  • Spacecraft/satellite design experience
  • 1+ years of experience as a team lead, manager, or technical leader


  • 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.

Base salary is only one part of Rocket Lab’s compensation package for this role. You may be eligible for company stock, stock options, or cash incentives, and can purchase discounted stock through Rocket Lab’s Employee Stock Purchase Program. Employee benefits may also include medical, dental, and vision insurance coverage; 401(k) retirement plan options; paid vacation, holidays, and sick leave; paid parental leave; and other discounts and perks.

Base Pay Range (CA Only)
$105,000$160,000 USD


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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This job is no longer accepting applications

See open jobs at Rocket Lab.