Senior Combustion Devices Development 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 of our team to serve as a Senior Combustion Devices Development Engineer. If you join us in this position, you will be a technical leader in the design, development, test, and flight of combustion devices used on the Newton series of engines flown on the LauncherOne small satellite launcher. You will produce conceptual and detailed designs of combustion devices and assess them based on flow modeling and experiments, and you will implement continual hardware improvements in terms of both performance and manufacturability. The ideal candidate would have knowledge of injectors used in pump fed liquid rocket engines, strong CFD skills, an experimental background, and experience in mechanical design. 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

  • Guide development, design, analysis, and manufacture of combustion devices used in pump-fed liquid rocket engines, including injectors, combustion chambers, and gas generators
  • Lead trade studies and concept evaluation of potential new designs
  • Release engineering of selected prototypes, incorporating proper sizing, loads, environments, and interfaces with higher level assemblies
  • Guide testing of prototypes and production units, including preparation of test plans, selection of sensors, execution of tests, and interpretation of data
  • Evaluate injectors for combustion efficiency and stability
  • Evaluate combustion devices for thermal and structural integrity
  • Provide detailed assessment of injector performance through computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and/or interpretation of empirical data
  • Advise on operational best practices related to all phases of hardware life, including ground test, prelaunch, and flight activities
  • Identify design solutions to facilitate streamlined manufacturing of combustion devices
  • Help develop procedures for manufacture, integration, and test of combustion devices
  • Manage test data and hardware configuration logs
  • Coordinate development and production activities with other departments
  • Own combustion device hardware throughout the product life cycle
  • Help foster continual improvement in designs and implement lessons learned into next generation programs
  • Mentor teammates in best practices of design and analysis of combustion devices
  • Develop tools and analysis methods to facilitate the foregoing responsibilities
  • Perform other duties as necessary in a lightweight engineering organization

What you bring


  • 7 years of experience with a Bachelor’s Degree in a relevant discipline (engineering, physics, or chemistry)
  • 5 years of experience with a graduate degree in a relevant discipline (engineering, physics, or chemistry)
  • Demonstrated experience in development, testing, and optimization of combustion devices
  • Mastery of fluids and structural principles relevant to rocket engine combustion devices
  • Problem solving capability ranging from first principals and hand calculations through detailed analytical modeling
  • Experience with data evaluation of combustion devices, including test sensor selection, data post-processing, and comparison to models, physical principles, and performance goals
  • Experience with CFD modeling of single phase liquid and gas flows
  • Experience with dynamic data acquisition, processing, and evaluation
  • Experience with some of the relevant software used in the aerospace industry, such as ANSYS/Fluent/CFX, Star CCM, Matlab, NASA CEA, TDK, ROCETS, and NX
  • Familiarity with industry standards and specifications from SMC, NASA, ASTM, AMS, etc.
  • 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 25% time at our rocket engine test site in Mojave, CA

Preferred Attributes

  • Demonstrated experience in development, testing, and optimization of pump fed liquid rocket engine injectors
  • Experience with two-phase (gas-liquid) and/or chemically reacting CFD
  • Experience with chemical kinetics
  • Experience with combustion instability identification and minimization in liquid rocket engines
  • Experience with instrumentation of hot and cold structures
  • Familiarity with design of experiments (DOE)
  • Experience with typical liquid rocket propellants, including cryogenic fluids
  • Experience in mechanical design for manufacturability, especially in both hot gas and cryogenic liquid environments
  • Familiarity with sealing in both hot gas and cryogenic liquid environments


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.


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