Virgin Orbit, LLC

Senior Thermal Protection Systems Engineer

Job Locations US-CA-Long Beach
Req No.
Regular FT


Long Beach, CA



Job Type:


Who we are




At Virgin Orbit, we are launching the small satellite revolution, enabling missions that were previously unimaginable. We are delivering Virgin’s legendary customer experience by combining advanced technology with a diligent, hard-working team. We have built a workplace and a workforce of the future, knowing that our decisions and investments of today are launching the industries of tomorrow. We have engaged a diverse and inclusive community of doers and dreamers alike, empowering all those working today to build satellites and constellations that will change the world.


At Virgin Orbit, we are opening space for good. Search all of our job openings on our career portal.



Senior Thermal Protection Systems Engineer


Position Summary


Virgin Orbit (VO) is seeking a new member for our team to serve as a Senior Thermal Protection Systems Engineer (TPS Engineer). In this position, you will be helping the LauncherOne small satellite launch program develop, implement, and improve the thermal protection systems required for an air-launched orbital vehicle. We are looking for someone with a strong Thermodynamics background and experience in thermal properties testing, TPS manufacturing processes, and in implementing and verifying the performance of these systems. You are a hands-on person with great attention to detail, excellent people skills and will work closely with the Thermodynamics, Test, Production, and Structures teams. This is a full-time position at our rocket factory in beautiful Long Beach, California.

Your Mission

  • Thermal properties testing of 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
  • Thermal testing includes HT coefficients, strength, mass, ablative recession, among other properties
  • Development, implementation, and documentation of TPS manufacturing processes
  • Create and/or approve TPS drawings for Launcher One
  • Shop support during TPS 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 Thermodynamics, Materials Science, Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, or similar discipline
  • 5+ years of experience in Thermodynamics and/or TPS Systems
  • Knowledge of the design and analysis of TPS systems
  • Experience with hands-on thermal properties testing
  • Experience with manufacturing process development for TPS installations, especially bonding
  • Knowledge of TPS materials and material forms including foam, silicone, cork, felt, ceramics and carbon/carbon
  • Ability and willingness to thrive in a fast-paced, rapidly changing work environment
  • 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
  • Must be a U.S. person as defined by the ITAR (22 CFR §120.15)
  • Passion for space exploration and a firm belief in the utility of affordable access to space
  • Self-driven, highly motivated, and committed to improvement, inter-team communication skills, and attention to detail
  • Must be able to provide proof of US-approved Covid-19 full vaccination status, unless otherwise exempted by an approved reasonable medical or religious accommodation from Virgin Orbit


… 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
  • Knowledge of urethane foam chemistry
  • 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. 


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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.