Virgin Orbit, LLC

Principal Propulsion Engineer – Combustion Devices

Req No.
Regular FT
Office Environment


Long Beach, CA



Job Type:


Job Description



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.



Position Summary

Virgin Orbit (VO) is seeking a Principal Propulsion Engineer to drive continual excellence into our rocket engine combustion chambers and our team. If you join us in this position, you will “Do and Guide”- you will dive in and get your hands dirty as a direct contributor, but you will also mentor and enable the next class of capable combustion devices engineers. You will provide technical guidance for a diverse team through requirements and concepts, detailed design and manufacturing trade studies, mechanical and fluid/thermal analyses, engineering release, development & test support, and data reduction & performance modeling.


You will solve tough problems from concept to flight across both the 1st and 2nd stage engines of LauncherOne, and you will enable future capabilities. You will team with Engine Managers and our Advanced Manufacturing team to make things happen and keep newer and better hardware continually flowing into test stands and flight. This role is for a hands-on engineer with meticulous attention to detail and excellent people skills. We want that rare breed who can step back and see the big picture, then tunnel into the deepest nuance with the team and execute.


The candidate must be excited about mentoring and training. The ideal candidate would demonstrate prior experience in mechanical design, fluid/thermal analysis, manufacturing development, and test or flight support. This is a full-time position at our rocket factory in beautiful Long Beach, CA.



Your Part of the Mission

  • Provide technical guidance across the full product lifecycle of rocket engine combustion chambers – requirements and concepts to flight data review.
  • Team with fellow combustion devices engineers, M&P, engines groups, and production to make the best possible hardware. Coordinate closely across the engineering, production, and operations organizations.
  • Enable an ever-increasing launch cadence through design for rate.
  • Solve tough problems in design, analysis, manufacturing, and test – and teach others how to do the same.
  • Provide organizational focus both to sustaining engineering and new development efforts of rocket engine combustion devices.
  • Ensure technical rigor always and enable the technical maturation of new propulsion designs across the launch vehicle—faster than ever.
  • Participate in trade studies, concepts evaluation, and system sizing for future stages and rockets.
  • Take ownership in product deliverables and meet commitments to maintain critical program schedules.
  • Establish analytical methods and tools with greater capability and automation.
  • Motivate a diverse team to take pride in hard work done well.
  • Get the job done – fly increasingly capable designs.


Minimum Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering.
  • Experience in combustion devices design, analysis, or hardware development.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Demonstrated success in combustion devices design, analysis, and hardware development.
  • Capable of solving complex problems with little to no supervision on schedule as an individual or as leader of an integrated team.
  • Understanding of the design elements of combustion chambers, flow conditioning elements, manifolds, and mechanical seals.
  • Ability to review low speed and high-speed combustion data to verify requirements, decipher trends, anticipate issues, and identify opportunities for improvement.
  • Rigorous attention to detail.
  • Strong work ethic and a self-starter.
  • Ability and willingness to thrive in a fast-paced, rapidly changing work environment.
  • Driven, highly motivated, and committed to team and self-improvement.
  • Ability to add something unique and positive to our team.
  • Generally high level of all-around awesomeness.
  • Familiarity with all or some of the following software packages: Teamcenter, NX, ANSYS, Matlab, SINDA/FLUINT.
  • Experience in low-cost commercial space system ventures desired.
  • Experience and comfort in both development and production manufacturing environment desired.
  • Experience in rocket engine test and flight operations.
  • Passion for space exploration and a firm belief in the utility of affordable access to space.

Additional Qualifications

  • 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.
  • Must be willing to work varying shifts and additional hours to support critical launch activities.
  • Willingness to travel (~25% of time).
  • Ability to lift up to 25lbs unassisted.

Salary Range

$150,000 - $190,000

Total Rewards at Virgin Orbit

At Virgin Orbit, we are STRAIGHT UP, which means we encourage honest and transparent communication. Our goal is to help you interpret the pay range you see and understand that compensation is much more than simply base pay.  Individual compensation packages are based on candidate-unique attributes, including, but not limited to, skills, experience, qualifications, and other job-related factors.  Cash compensation is only part of the total reward package, and the range reflects a strong market-based salary.  Some jobs may also be eligible for bonus, overtime pay, weekend work compensation and differentials.  In addition to cash compensation, all Virgin Orbit teammates are eligible for equity which includes stock options and/or RSUs (Restricted Stock Units) and an Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP). 


At Virgin Orbit, you work alongside some of the best and brightest, on the coolest premier dedicated small satellite launch service.  We also know that benefits and belonging are an important piece of your total rewards package.  At Virgin Orbit we offer some of the best around:


  • Robust time off with holiday shut down between Christmas and New Year
  • Better than market 401k including a Safe Harbor plan
  • Superior health and welfare benefits offering an average 90% of benefits premiums paid, including some plans with zero employee contributions
  • Financial wellness through Northstar which includes your personal financial advisor
  • Paid parental leave
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • A variety of optional benefits such as pet insurance and discounts, and remote and/or hybrid opportunity for some positions
  • Health Reimbursement program providing up to $3,000 max per year for eligible teammates 
  • Employee Resource Groups, Virgin cultural gatherings and success celebrations, professional growth opportunities, and more!

At Virgin Orbit, pay and total rewards is about offering competitive programs for any stage of your life and career. We constantly look for opportunities to enhance our programs and reward our teammates and we update our benefits offerings regularly.

Other Requirements:

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. 


Stay in touch with the latest news and updates from Virgin Orbit by following us on:  

YouTube twitter logo Twitter   insta logoInstagram facebook logoFacebook   linkedin logoLinkedIn


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.