Principal Engineer, Thermal Protection Systems (TPS Engineer)

Company Details

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 new member for our team to serve as a Principal Engineer, Thermal Protection Systems Engineer (TPS Engineer). If you join us in this position, you will be the Responsible Engineer (RE) for the LauncherOne small satellite launch program. The TPS RE will work closely with the Thermodynamics, Structures and Aerodynamics teams to design, develop and maintain the insulation and ablative systems used on Launcher 1 under the direction of the Senior Director, Structures. The ideal candidate will have current and/or recent hands-on experience with launch vehicle, re-entry or on-orbit thermal protection systems; familiarity with TPS materials and manufacturing processes; and have experience implementing and verifying the performance of these systems on a vehicle. Additionally, s/he should demonstrate a strong background in Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer. 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.

Your Mission

  • Design and optimize suitable insulation and ablatives to protect the composite structure of Launcher 1 during launch and ascent, consistent with thermal requirements, in concert with other engineering disciplines
  • Design Insulation systems for Launcher 1 cryogenic tanks and systems
  • Design flexible thermal blankets to isolate engine components from plume gas
  • Create and/or approve all TPS drawings for Launcher 1
  • Thermal and mechanical characterization of TPS systems including HT coefficients, strength, mass, ablative recession and other properties
  • Development and documentation of Production processes for TPS application and provide shop support during installation
  • Qualification of TPS for flight
  • Launch and mission operations support
  • Help Virgin Orbit do our part to make the world a better place
  • Constantly learn new things—and share them with your team members
  • Perform other duties as assigned

What you bring

If you want to join us, you’d better have all of these…  

  • Bachelor’s Degree in, Materials Science, Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Thermodynamics or similar discipline
  • 10+ years of experience in an aerospace manufacturing environment
  • Strong expertise in TPS materials and material forms including foam, silicone, cork, ceramics and carbon/carbon
  • Knowledge of the design, analysis, fabrication, and testing of TPS systems
  • Experience with high temperature TPS bonding processes
  • Knowledge of urethane foam chemistry
  • Ability and willingness to thrive in a fast-paced, rapidly changing work environment
  • Driven, highly motivated, and committed to improvement
  • Ability to add something unique and positive to our team
  • Generally high level of all-around awesomeness
  • Must be able to work all shifts and available for overtime as well as weekends when needed

… and you should probably have a bunch of these, too.

  • Experience in developing new materials
  • Experience with high temperature coatings
  • Experience with automation process and control
  • Experience with spray-on insulation
  • Experience in low cost commercial space system ventures
  • Passion for space exploration and a firm belief in the utility of affordable access to space
  • Ability to thrive as a ‘one person team’

ITAR Requirements

To conform to U.S. Government space technology export regulations, 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: materials processing, design insulation

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