Chief Engineer – Planetary Exploration

United States (USA), Bradford Space [BS-CEPE]

Field(s) of expertise
Space Systems Engineering
Job type

About this job

Bradford Space (www.bradford-space.com) is a high-tech developer and manufacturer that has been innovating the space industry for over three decades. Bradford has over 35 years’ experience developing and manufacturing state of the art in-orbit systems and components. Today, this US-owned company with headquarters in New York City and operations in the Netherlands, Sweden and Luxembourg builds high performance spacecraft propulsion systems, avionics, attitude orbit control systems, microgravity workspaces, and is developing the highly maneuverable Explorer spacecraft for beyond LEO missions.

Bradford Space operations blend the responsible, high-quality engineering practices of traditional aerospace engineering while implementing the rapid iterative development methods and dynamic workplace culture of a New-Space style start-up.


Bradford is seeking an experienced engineer to lead technical development of the Explorer deep space platform and its upcoming missions. This includes all phases from design to build, integration, test, and delivery. The chief engineer is the technical expert and architect for the spacecraft, as well as the lead for the spacecraft technical team.

You will take on a high degree of systems-level technical responsibility for concept design, mission formulation, system analysis, and integration and test towards subsequent launch of an ESPA-class platform that accommodates a wide variety of payloads to inner solar systems destinations, including the Moon and Venus out to the asteroid belt. The candidate will be responsible for managing and working closely with lead subsystems engineers in a team environment. This position reports directly to the program manager and will work in association with the business development team on proposals and new mission initiatives.

Key responsibilities:

  • Analyze customer mission objectives to determine spacecraft system requirements
  • Create space system concepts and configurations to meet system requirements
  • Analyze orbits and trajectories to fulfill mission objectives
  • Develop spacecraft CONOPS and design reference missions
  • Perform quantitative trade analyses, make-buy analyses and vendor selections
  • Allocate and define subsystem requirements
  • Break down system-level requirements from a customer into component-level requirements, software requirements, and individual tasks
  • Track Technical Performance Metrics for systems and subsystems
  • Create and maintain critical budgets (e.g. mass, power, propulsion, link, etc.)
  • Create and maintain spacecraft states and modes tables
  • Produce interface control documents
  • Support integration and test of the platform
  • Responsible for cradle-to-grave engineering (conceptual design, detailed design, analysis, integration, test, launch, and flight operations)
  • Work closely with customers (commercial, start-up companies, space & defense)


Required Qualifications

  • 10 years of applicable spacecraft engineering experience with at least 5 of that in Spacecraft Systems Engineering
  • US citizenship or Permanent Residence
  • B.S., M.S., or Ph.D in Engineering
  • Strong understanding of spacecraft subsystems and the tradeoffs between them, including: propulsion, avionics, GN&C, communication, structures, EPS and thermal
  • Prior experience as lead engineer or subsystem lead on small (< ~500kg) spacecraft programs
  • Knowledge of each phase of a spacecraft development program
  • Demonstrated ability to lead and integrate teams of different backgrounds and technical expertise
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Excellent organizational and interpersonal skills
  • Extensive experience in architectural trades and design
  • Knowledge of the SmallSat market and the techniques that permit low-cost missions

Desired Skills & Experience

  • A creative engineering mind
  • A strong motivation and drive to succeed
  • Familiarity with the particular challenges of deep-space missions
  • Strong understanding of propulsion technologies, particularly chemical propulsion
  • Ability to conduct astrodynamics and trajectory analyses
  • Experience with spacecraft mission planning
  • Familiarity with commercial low-cost/SmallSat avionics, components and subsystems
  • Exposure to full-lifecycle spacecraft development process, including flight operations
  • Understanding of the space environment, particularly radiation and its effects
  • Past work on spacecraft AIT, launch ops or on-orbit commissioning
  • Competences in hiring and engineering team formation
  • Experience with customer relations and business development activities
  • A love of bullet point lists

Occasional travel may be required within the US and internationally. The Explorer team is comprised of personnel across Bradford’s global entities and it is essential the selected candidate be able to work effectively with a remote team in Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

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