Director of Propulsion & Test
Astrobotic Technology, Inc. is a space robotics company that seeks to make space accessible to the world. The company’s suite of lunar landers delivers payloads to the Moon for companies, governments, universities, non-profits, and individuals. The company is also developing advanced space robotics capabilities such as terrain relative navigation, mobile robotics for lunar surface operations, and reliable computing systems for mission-critical applications. Originally spun out of Carnegie Mellon University in 2007, Astrobotic is pioneering affordable planetary access that promises to spark a new era of exploration, science, tourism, resource utilization, and mining. Astrobotic’s headquarters is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with a second location in Mojave, California.
Astrobotic Technology is looking for a Department Director for our Propulsion & Test (P&T) Department, which includes the team and technology that joined Astrobotic as part of its acquisition of Masten Space Systems in September 2022. This role will supervise and lead a matrix organization of engineers and technicians who design, develop, assemble, test, and operate VTVL rocket vehicles, engines, and related propulsion technologies. This leadership position will ensure engineering and project management practices align with the department’s philosophies of reusability, small teams, rapid iteration, and frequent testing. This position is located in Mojave, California, with regular travel to Pittsburgh, PA.
The Department Director also works with the company leadership team and senior department personnel to develop long-term strategies which will position the department for sustained growth. This position serves on the leadership team of the company and, as a result, has a substantial influence in the company strategic planning. This position reports to the CEO.
- Setting strategic long- and short-term departmental goals and evaluating outcomes
- Managing department overall department budget, overhead budget and forecasting budget requirements
- Reviewing and evaluating project implementation plans, schedules and budgets developed by project managers for overall feasibility
- Ensuring common engineering and test processes and methodologies are clearly communicated to the team and applied to all projects
- Leading the department’s personnel management, communicating job expectations, evaluating team structure, ensuring cohesive team culture, monitoring and evaluating employee performance
- Recruiting, interviewing, and orienting new staff members, in coordination with the department’s managers and HR
- Managing staffing needs including surge resource management, career planning and counseling, training, mentoring, and rewards/recognition
- Managing and maintaining Astrobotic’s relationship with the Mojave Air and Space Port and supporting key stakeholder relationships in California (e.g., Air Force Research Lab at Edwards Air Force Base)
- Working closely with business development to identify and capture new business opportunities, support proposal development, and build customer relationships
- Ensuring all flight and test operations are safe for the team, property, and equipment
- Providing management review and go / no go for all Flight Readiness Reviews and Test Readiness Reviews
- Working with Operations to ensure Mojave facilities are planned, resourced, and managed to support P&T operations
- Providing leadership and support to Headquarters on operations topics in Mojave (e.g., facilities, IT, insurance, quality, etc.)
- Coordinating with other departments to collaborate on projects, cross-utilize personnel, and improve overall company alignment
- Ensuring employee adherence to company and departmental policies
Required Skills & Qualifications:
- 10+ years of relevant management and operations experience in aerospace and defense
- Demonstrated experience with launch operations, propulsion testing, or experimental aircraft testing, preferably in a new space or startup environment
- Demonstrated experience in one or more of the following areas: rocket vehicle development, cryogenic rocket propulsion systems, flight test or launch operations
- Demonstrated experience identifying, selecting, and developing top talent
- Demonstrated experience leading and growing engineering teams (30+ employees)
- Demonstrated experience operating in a matrix organization
- Demonstrated experience developing strategic plans and implementation plans
- Excellent oral and written communication skills
- Strong organizational, multi-tasking, and problem-solving skills
Desired Skills & Qualifications:
- Demonstrated experience in a high-growth startup or operational turnaround environment
- Demonstrated experience supporting operations needs in additional to engineering work (e.g., facilities, quality)
- Demonstrated experience in life cycle development and management of rocket, aircraft, or propulsion systems
- Minimum 5 years of relevant launch or propulsion experience with cryogenic propellants
The base salary range represents the low and high end of the anticipated salary range for this position. The actual base salary offered for this position will depend on numerous factors including individual performance, business objectives, and the candidates professional experience. Base salary is just one component of Astrobotic’s competitive total rewards strategy.
To conform to U.S. Government space technology export regulations, including the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) you must be a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident of the U.S., protected individual as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3), or eligible to obtain the required authorizations from the U.S. Department of State.
Astrobotic Technology, Inc. does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, retaliation, parental status, military service, or other non-merit factor.
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