Spacecraft Thermal Engineer

Long Beach, United States (USA), Rocket Lab [4034522003]

Field(s) of expertise
Aerospace Engineering Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering
Job type

About this job

At Rocket Lab we believe the future will be defined and enabled by access to space. We’re making it easy to get there. We’re already the global leader in dedicated small satellite launch and now we’re also building satellites and space systems that enable exploration and innovation in low Earth orbit and beyond.



Rocket Lab is seeking exceptional engineers to work on its recently-announced Photon program. Photon is a first-of-its-kind platform in the small satellite industry: a versatile satellite bus that is also an integral part of the launch vehicle. Engineers within the Photon team have a unique opportunity to help shape this space system and, given the high launch cadence of Electron, have unparalleled opportunities for end-to-end system development and on-orbit operations. The successful candidate will have a strong set of technical skills, will have experience in related projects, and will thrive in a fast-paced, dynamic environment



As a Spacecraft Thermal Engineer in the Space Systems team, you will contribute to the thermal design, analysis, testing, and validation of Rocket Lab’s space vehicles.  Day to day you will be expected to perform thermal modelling and data analysis whilst working closely with the test, and design engineers to capture the vehicle’s thermal performance and provide input for design improvements.


  • Complete thermal modelling and analysis of vehicles; conduct thermal design trade studies that successfully balance performance margins, resource use, risk, cost, and schedule.
  • Perform hand calculations for early feasibility, as well as detailed heat transfer simulations for space vehicle components and assemblies.
  • Identify and resolve thermal design, acceptance and performance issues for space vehicle components and assemblies.
  • Design and execute thermal tests for space vehicle components and assemblies.
  • Perform thermal model validation using test and in-flight data.
  • Liaise with all levels of program and engineering staff on thermal design and test matters and support other teams / disciplines as necessary.
  • Identify and research potential vendors of thermal control materials.


  • A degree in a related field (aerospace, mechanical) with a strong background in heat transfer.
  • 5+ year’s industry experience, ideally from the Aerospace, Aviation or Automotive industries.
  • Demonstrated expertise with Thermal Desktop.
  • Demonstrated experience with thermal systems and passive thermal management techniques.
  • Demonstrated experience in planning, execution, and data analysis of thermal balance tests.
  • Familiarity using Solidworks CAD and PDM packages (or comparable industry standard packages) with emphasis on model interrogation and defeaturing for subsequent analyses.
  • Proven oral and written communication skills and the ability to build strong working relationships with colleagues and engineering professionals.
  • The ability to work independently when required.
  • Proven history of meeting project goals by specific dates within a fast-paced and dynamic work environment.



  • Experience working with multi-layer insulation: design, fabrication, installation, and test
  • Experience with 0-D and 1-D thermal/fluid networks
  • Experience with scripting languages (i.e. Python, MATLAB)
  • Experience with both active and passive thermal management techniques
  • Familiarity with thermal engineering tools such as NX Space Systems Thermal, ANSYS, SINDA, THERMICA
  • Familiarity with aspects of launch and on-orbit operations
  • Familiarity with orbital mechanics related to thermal analysis (beta angle, inclination, illumination, attitude control)
  • Familiarity with industry standards (e.g. MIL-STD-1540, GSFC-STD-7000, ECSS-E-HB-32, NASA-STD-5001)


Important Information:

To conform to US Government space technology export regulations, applicants must be a US citizen, lawful permanent resident of the US, protected individual as defined by 8 USC 1324b(a)(3), or eligible to obtain the required authorization from the US Department of State.

Rocket Lab USA is an Equal Opportunity Employer, employment with Rocket Lab USA is governed on the basis of merit, competence and qualifications and will not be influenced in any manner by race, color, religion, gender, national origin/ethnicity, veteran status, disability status, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, mental or physical disability or any other legally protected status.

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