Head of Propulsion Development

Mojave, CA

Astrobotic is at the forefront of advancing space exploration and technology development. Our expertise spans from lunar rovers, landers, and infrastructure to spacecraft navigation, machine vision, and computing systems for in-space robotic applications. To date, the company has been contracted for two lunar missions, and has won more than 60 NASA, DoD, and commercial technology contracts worth more than $600 million.

We recently launched and operated the first American lunar lander mission since the Apollo Program.  Beyond helping lead America back to the Moon, Astrobotic developed and operates reusable vertical takeoff, vertical landing (VTVL) rockets and continues to advance next-generation VTVL capabilities and advanced rocket engines. Established in 2007, Astrobotic is headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, with a propulsion and test campus in Mojave, CA.

This position will lead the technical development and evolution of Astrobotic’s portfolio of propulsion technologies and testing capabilities.  This position requires significant propulsion system design and analysis as well as extensive hands-on prototyping and testing experience, ideally including engine testing and flight operations.  Significant experience with cryogenic propulsion systems required.   This position will manage the Propulsion teams located in Pittsburgh, PA & Mojave, CA, and allows for applicants to work a hybrid schedule in either office location.

Job Responsibilities: 

  • Primary technical and management lead for propulsion systems development and test for Astrobotic’s VTVL flight vehicle developments, leading diverse teams through development of new engine development programs across full engine lifecycles 
  • Manage testing of new propulsion systems, including development and entry to service of any testing facilities required, development of test procedures and checklists, and ensuring compliance with all regulatory regimes.
  • Have a deep understanding of the systems engineering approach and requirements-based design, ensuring optimization for performance across demanding mission profiles, design for manufacturability, ease of serviceability, and market-leading reusability.  
  • Work closely with P&T Chief Engineer on technical alignment of propulsion designs with future vehicle or lander architectures 
  • Interface with multi-disciplinary vehicle development team and integrate propulsion systems into larger system architectures.
  • Personnel management and mentorship for propulsion and prop test team members and other employees as relevant within matrixed project activities. 
  • Own accountability of propulsion engineering readiness for ECR, component level gated review, and system level gated review approvals.
  • Deliver conceptual and detailed design and test of Cryo propulsion systems including all combustion devices, valves, propellant feed systems, tanks, turbomachinery, and pressurization systems.
  • Serve as the technical lead for internal R&D discussions on the development of new cryogenic and monoprop propulsion systems.
  • Ensure configuration control is established and managed correctly across propulsion system engineering, driving baseline changes implementation via a robust engineering change process, and maintaining product traceability.
  • Develop and manage technical baseline and execute to cost and schedule baselines, bringing a familiarity with scheduling estimating tools and methodologies 
  • Effective people and process management, particularly an ability to understand and read team member well-being in a high-pressure test environment 
  • Serving as test support for component and integrated system testing, potentially including Xogdor and Xodiac flight vehicles 
  • Developing or managing the development of component and assembly specifications, fabrication and assembly schematics and procedures for engines and GSE, and running component testing  
  • Contribute to technical and safety reviews for flight vehicles and propulsion test stands 
  • Provide technical guidance to fabricators and technicians   
  • Identify resource needs and contribute to recruiting efforts to build the Astrobotic P&T team 
  • Support project management by providing task lists and task dependencies, estimating labor and material cost requirements 
  • Other duties as assigned

 Required Skills & Qualifications

  • Great attitude in the face of technical challenges 
  • Hands-on project experience with fluid and mechanical systems, preferably as a team or sub-team lead 
  • Extensive experience in propulsion system design, analysis, manufacture, integration, test, and flight operations 
  • Experience with systems engineering approach and holding engineering team accountable for requirements-based definition 
  • Experience using CAD to design parts/assemblies  
  • Experience developing hardware from concept to working prototypes 
  • Experience safely testing with and handling hazardous materials especially cryogens and high pressure gas 
  • Experience chairing, participating, or presenting to Program Change Control Boards, Engineering Review Boards, and Fracture Control Boards 
  • Knowledge of the common propulsion system cycles and their benefits and nuances, and performing system-level engine modeling  
  • Experience with cryogenic and supercritical fluid behavior 
  • Conjugate heat transfer analysis experience with high heat flux heat exchangers  
  • Analytical/scientific programming experience (Python, C/C++, and/or Matlab)  
  • Awareness of regulatory safety requirements  (e.g., OSHA, FAA) 
  • Familiarity with aerospace quality management systems and certifications, primarily AS9100 
  • Hands-on fabrication skills and a willingness to be hands-on with pathfinder hardware 
  • Openness to learning and mentoring on Astrobotic design and test philosophies from existing team 

Desired Skills & Qualifications: 

  • Experience leveraging additive manufacturing in engine design 
  • Experience with design and/or test of hypergolic propellant propulsion systems  
  • Familiarity with explosive hazard calculations 
  • Fortran programming language 
  • Solidworks CAD 
  • NASA propulsion and fluid system design and analysis software 
  • Design of the ground support equipment (GSE) and tooling for engine manufacturing, testing,  
  • Design, construction, and commissioning of test facilities

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.

If you need assistance and/or a reasonable accommodation due to a disability during the application or the recruiting process, please send a request to contact@astrobotic.com