Engine Test Lead of Newton 3

Company Details

The Premier Dedicated Small Satellite Launch Service

Who we are

At Virgin Orbit, we launch the small satellite revolution, accessing space for missions that were previously unimaginable and fostering new ideas and technologies to create a truly spacefaring civilization. We deliver Virgin’s legendary customer service by pairing technological advancements with a clear focus on our customers’ needs. We build a workplace and a workforce for the future, knowing that our decisions and investments of today will launch the industries of tomorrow. We engage a diverse and inclusive community of dreamers and achievers in a shared mission to access space to improve life on Earth. At Virgin Orbit, we boost imagination.

Position Summary

Virgin Orbit (VO) is seeking a member of our team to serve as Engine Test Lead of Newton 3. If you join us in this position, you will be a technical and operational leader in the testing of Newton 3 engine hardware. You will coordinate tests of development, qualification, and production engines, as well as related subassemblies, such as thrust chambers and power packs. You will lead test campaigns from the engineering organization in terms of the definition of objectives, test planning, engineering personnel scheduling, data reduction, and our briefing of results. You will train responsible engineers in engine operations and test practices. You will work closely with the test organizations to ensure properly coordinated test and personnel schedules. The ideal candidate will have technical knowledge of pump-fed liquid rocket engines, hot fire test experience, and project management in an engineering environment. This role is for a hands-on person with great attention to detail and excellent people skills. This is a full-time position at our rocket factory in beautiful Long Beach, California, but frequent travel to test facilities is expected.

Your Mission

  • Guide test campaigns of Newton 3 engines being tested at Necker Central, and potentially at other sites
  • Guide test campaigns of Newton 3 subassemblies, such as thrust chambers, turbopumps, and power packs
  • Authorize tests and hazardous operations day-to-day on behalf of the Propulsion Department
  • Lead the corps of responsible engineers (REs), who own the individual pieces of hardware, in all test activities
  • Act as engine RE as necessary during hazardous operations
  • Ensure data from each test is properly acquired and reduced to provided needed outputs to the program
  • Ensure results of test campaigns are documented and briefed in a consistent and timely manner
  • Maintain and establish data repositories that ensure consistent testing, adequate traceability, and readily comparable performance results over time, including hardware history logs, test-related artifacts, performance data summaries, and demonstrated life factor summaries
  • Work with stakeholders from test sites and other propulsion teams to ensure consistency of processes and outputs across the test and propulsion organizations
  • Ensure test artifacts and processes are consistent with company-wide VO processes
  • Mentor teammates in best practices of engine test and data reduction
  • Delegate the foregoing as necessary to REs
  • Perform other duties as necessary in a lightweight engineering organization

What you bring


Qualified candidates will have most of the following:

  • 2 years of experience with a Bachelor’s Degree in a relevant discipline (engineering, physics, or chemistry)
  • Direct experience in hot-fire testing of pump-fed liquid rocket engines
  • Experience with liquid rocket engine development, design, and/or flight operations
  • Ability to lead teammates and coordinate effectively with leaders of other organizations
  • Knowledge of typical testing practices
  • Experience with typical liquid rocket propellants, including cryogenic fluids
  • Experience with evaluation of rocket engine data, data post-processing, and comparison of results to design and flight
  • Experience with some of the relevant software used in the liquid rocket engine testing, such as Matlab, Python, and Labview
  • Experience with data acquisition systems and instrumentation relevant to liquid rocket engines
  • Strong work ethic and ability to self-start
  • The capability of solving complex problems with little-to-no supervision, on schedule, as an individual, or as leader of an integrated team
  • Rigorous attention to detail
  • Ability to spend up to 50% time at our rocket engine test site in Mojave, CA
  • Ability to stand for extended periods – 8 hours minimum
  • Physical ability to handle items weighing up to 25 lbs (unassisted)

Preferred Attributes

Candidates are especially competitive if they have any of the following:

  • Direct experience hot fire testing LOX/RP gas generator engines
  • Experience testing liquid rocket engine combustion devices
  • Experience testing with rocket turbomachinery

ITAR Requirements

To conform to U.S. Government space technology export regulations, the applicant must be a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident of the U.S., protected individual as defined by ITAR (22 CFR §120.15), or eligible to obtain the required authorizations from the U.S. Department of State.

Personal Requirements

Our idea of a happy life: build rockets, work with brilliant people, serve purposeful customers, and open access to space. Sir Richard Branson’s belief is “If you get the perfect mix of people working for your company, you have a far greater chance of success.” From the very start, we have placed top priority on growing and fostering a team of creative, diverse, and talented women and men. In the words of Sir Richard Branson, “We believe it’s better to have a hole in your team than an asshole in your team!”

Virgin Orbit is an Equal Opportunity Employer; employment with Virgin Orbit 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, marital status, mental or physical disability or any other legally protected status.

Tagged as: design, hot-fire testing of pump-fed liquid rocket engines, liquid rocket engine development, and/or flight operations

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