Virgin Orbit, LLC

Propulsion Engine Responsible Engineer

Req No.
Regular FT
Office Environment


Long Beach, CA



Job Type:


Job Description



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. Search all of our job openings on our career portal.



Position Summary

Virgin Orbit (VO) is seeking a member of our team to serve as an Engine Lead of one of the Newton engine product lines. If you join us in this position, you will be a technical and operational leader in the development, test, and flight of the one of the Newton engines. You will provide front-line direction on development and delivery of a specific engine product line, ensuring that the engine system, through build, test, and flight, meets design intent and system requirements.


You will lead a team of responsible engineers (REs) in execution of this responsibility. You will lead the REs in the development, qualification, and flight of your product line from the engineering organization. You will lead them in the execution of test campaigns, including definition of objectives, test planning, and engineering personnel scheduling. You will coordinate training of responsible engineers in engine operations and test practices. You will be responsible for ensuring all engines meet requirements in terms of system performance and hardware quality. You will work with teams within and external to the Propulsion Department to continually improve the product line based on learning from flight, ground test, and production experience.


The ideal candidate will have technical knowledge at the component and systems level of pump-fed liquid rocket engines and vehicle stages, as well as operations and project management experience in an engineering environment. 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 Part of the Mission

  • Lead all day-to-day activities related to the engine product line as the primary, front-line representative for the engine from the Propulsion Department.
  • Interface with other organizations within the company, including Production, Test, Launch, Avionics, Flight Software, Structures, Flight Sciences, and Systems Engineering to ensure delivery of consistently effective engines to the LauncherOne program.
  • Ensure that all product line requirements are met, such as thrust, Isp, mixture ratio, commodity consumption, and any lower-level subassembly requirements directly relevant to delivering a satisfactory engine to the program.
  • Coordinate and communicate with other organizations on requirements and deliverables.
  • Ensure that the engine is properly developed and qualified.
  • Work with the engines manager and engine PIE on product line design improvements, overall qualification, and evolution within the broader scope of the engine growth and goals.
  • Oversee initiatives to improve processes used to build, test, and analyze the engine.
  • Ensure technical issues, such as quality escapes and risks, related to the engine are properly dispositioned and mitigated, coordinating with other teams, and properly communicating program level impacts.
  • Lead the corps of responsible engineers (REs), who own the individual engines, in all activities related to the engine, including production, test, vehicle integration, and launch.
  • Guide test campaigns of the engine and related subassemblies being tested at Necker Central, and potentially at other sites.
  • Authorize tests and hazardous operations day-to-day on behalf of the Propulsion Department.
  • Ensure results of specific actions related to the engine, such as test campaigns and launch-related activities, are documented and briefed in a consistent and timely manner
  • In coordination with other stakeholders, ensure that product-line data artifacts are maintained to enable comprehension of overall product line qualification basis, data trends, and demonstrated life factors.
  • Provide schedule inputs and drive team schedule to meet program deadlines.
  • Make development decisions based on technical merit, cost, and schedule metrics.
  • Coordinate interdisciplinary projects that impact functional groups across the program.
  • Mentor teammates in best practices of engine test, operations, handling, and data reduction.
  • Perform other duties as necessary in a lightweight engineering organization.
  • Perform all the foregoing responsibilities in close coordination with, and as authorized by, engine management.


Minimum Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s Degree in engineering, physics, or chemistry.
  • 4+ years of experience with rocket engine development, design, and/or flight operations.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience with liquid rocket engine development, design, and/or flight operations.
  • Direct experience with pump-fed liquid rocket engines.
  • Ability to lead teammates and coordinate effectively with leaders of other organizations.
  • Knowledge of typical rocket engine production, operation, and testing practices.
  • Experience with typical liquid rocket propellants, including cryogenic fluids.
  • Experience with evaluation of rocket engine data, data post-processing, and comparison of results to design and flight.
  • Experience with some of the relevant software used in the liquid rocket engine testing, such as Matlab, Python, and LabVIEW.
  • Strong work ethic and ability to self-start.
  • 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.
  • Direct experience hot fire testing LOX/RP gas generator engines.
  • Experience with liquid rocket engine combustion devices.
  • Experience with rocket turbomachinery.
  • Experience with air-launched space launch vehicles or aircraft systems.

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 work in outdoor launch pad environment.
  • Ability to lift up to 25lbs unassisted.

Salary Range

$85,000 - $115,000

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. 


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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.