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Mechanical Development Engineer | Thermal Protection

Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab

Auckland, New Zealand
Posted on Wednesday, May 24, 2023

About The Role

Rocket Lab is a vertically integrated provider of small launch services, satellites, and spacecraft components. Our mission is to open access to space to improve life on Earth. Our team is over 1,500 people strong and we’re adding to it every week. Collaboration is at our core – every idea is heard, and everyone makes a difference. Teams are nimble, decisions are made quickly, and we are action oriented.

Life at Rocket Lab

While other companies talk about it, we do it!

About the role

Development Engineers deliver across a broad set of vehicle domains including structural (i.e. Propellant tanks, interstage, fairings), mechanical (i.e. stage separation, landing, aerodynamic control), fluid (i.e. pressurant, propellant management, ignition, HVAC), and thermal (i.e. thermal protection, insulation) systems.

This role will focus on Neutron Thermal Protection Systems working directly with design, analysis, and manufacturing engineers to perform development & qualification tests, refine designs, and ensure Neutron’s TPS materials, components, and assemblies meet their functional and performance requirements.

Day to day, your key responsibilities will include:

  • Support the analysis, material selection, development, testing, qualification, and manufacturing methodology for thermal protection systems on the Neutron launch vehicle;
  • Develop test plans, monitor test activities, and post-process and document test data to verify functional and performance requirements;
  • Develop and execute test activities to characterise materials, interfaces, and subcomponents pertaining to the TPS;
  • Support the design and development of test jigs/fixtures. Working with manufacturing engineers to coordinate manufacture of development & qualification hardware;
  • Proactively identify and solve technical challenges to allow projects to proceed at pace;
  • Mentor, and technically assist junior colleagues.

Ideal candidates will thrive in ambiguity, and are excited to work in a small, high performing team focused on continued learning and growth. Success in this position will be measured by the knowledge and experience you bring to the role, your ability to lead design projects without supervision, and your ability to successfully collaborate across teams to deliver results.

Essential Skills

  • Aerospace, mechanical, or mechatronic engineering degree or equivalent qualification
  • 3-5 years designing high performance mechanical systems
  • Have a keen interest in aerospace/aeronautical thermal protection systems
  • Experience with CAD software such as NX (preferred), Fibersim (preferred), Solidworks, CATIA
  • The ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines
  • Excellent communication skills and the ability to work well within a team environment
  • Sound analytical skills and the ability to see the big picture and making connections and appropriate decisions
  • Have tenacity, a can-do attitude, and the ability to think quickly and make accurate judgements


  • Understanding of composites engineering fundamentals (mechanics of materials, classical lamination theory, material property characterization, design best practices, analysis methods, and manufacturing processes)
  • Experience with instrumentation selection, setup, post-processing, and interpretation of static & dynamic test data (load cells, accelerometers, strain gauges, pressure transducers etc.)
  • Experience in one of the following domain areas:
  • Thermal protection systems
  • Cryogenic systems
  • Pressurised systems
  • Mechanical moving assemblies
  • Fluid Systems
  • Hands-on composites manufacturing experience

Rocket Lab Employee Benefits

  • The opportunity to work on innovative and ground breaking technology
  • An employee stock purchase program
  • Access to world leading experts to develop your career
  • Unlimited barista coffee, fruit, and snacks
  • Rocket Lab merchandise – T-shirts, mission patches etc.
  • Discounted health insurance with Southern Cross
  • Additional parental leave entitlements
  • A vibrant team culture with social activities throughout the year

If the above sounds like you apply now!

Important information:


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

Rocket Lab provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment and prohibits discrimination and harassment of any type without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, disability status, genetics, protected veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local laws. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment at Rocket Lab, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation and training.


For security reasons background checks will be undertaken prior to any employment offers being made to an applicant. These checks will include nationality checks as it is a requirement of this position that you be eligible to access equipment and data regulated by the United States' International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

Under these Regulations, you may be ineligible for this role if you do not hold citizenship of Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, the European Union or a country that is part of NATO, or if you hold ineligible dual citizenship or nationality. For more information on these Regulations, click here ITAR Regulations.

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