Sr. Optical Sensors Engineer (Crew Starship Avionics)



hawthorne, ca, usa
Posted on Saturday, February 4, 2023

SpaceX was founded under the belief that a future where humanity is out exploring the stars is fundamentally more exciting than one where we are not. Today SpaceX is actively developing the technologies to make this possible, with the ultimate goal of enabling human life on Mars.


Become a part of the Crew Starship Avionics team and support the mission to revolutionize orbital flight and space travel - opening access for humankind to establish new frontiers in space, and ultimately make humans a multi-planetary species.

The Crew Starship Avionics team has taken the challenge to develop avionics for the SpaceX Human Landing System, which will soon carry astronauts to the moon as part of NASA's Artemis program. Across all systems, from communications, to power, to life support, to navigation, and even creature comforts, our team's hardware will safely support astronauts on their lunar mission, while humanity looks on. This will be one of the most sophisticated and largest crewed vehicles flown in space, and will be developed at a cost and rate previously considered unthinkable in the space industry. The Optical Sensors Engineer will be part of the multidisciplinary team developing the next generation of optical navigation sensors to allow humans to safely land on the Moon and Mars. These sensors will be key in enabling our ambitious concept of operations, which includes on-orbit propellant transfer, deep space localization, as well as autonomous docking and terrain relative navigation. Become a part of this fast moving and world class development team, working with super smart and motivated engineers, and achieve truly audacious goals. If you’re ready for a challenge and would like to help take humanity back to the moon then you’ve come to the right place!


  • Rapidly develop high reliability imaging and laser optical navigation sensors
  • Exercise extreme ownership for flight hardware from conception through design, build, qualification, and ultimately flight operations
  • Drive design trades, product requirements, technology and component selection, analyses, prototyping, bring-up, documentation, manufacturing planning, and production test coverage.
  • Create development and qualification test campaigns, defining performance and survivability validation approaches to exercise design limits and ensure reliable flight hardware
  • Provide technical leadership across the organization, manage related risk and change across the program, drive new technology introduction, and provide mentoring for less senior engineers
  • Act as liaison with NASA counterparts, providing technical insight and lead creation of deliverables for Crew Starship milestones
  • Act as primary point of contact with experts from other teams and departments to ensure that fielded systems perform their intended function while being efficient, manufacturable, and reliable; challenge assumptions and build strong professional relationships


  • Graduate degree in physics, aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, optics engineering, or other engineering discipline
  • 5+ years of professional experience with optics and instrument design, optomechanical or imaging devices, or experimental setups
  • Project experience with two of: integrated fiber optics, photonic integrated circuits, telescope design, or camera design
  • Experience with CAD, finite element analysis, schematic and PCBA design, and/or ray tracing


  • Graduate degree in experimental physics, aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, optics engineering, astronomical instrumentation, or equivalent
  • 7+ years of professional experience with opto-mechanics, imaging sensors, lens design, fiber optics, laser optics, and/or machine vision
  • Passion for spaceflight and demonstrated experience creating high-reliability, rugged hardware from concept through successful product execution
  • Demonstrated ability to deliver a product from concept to production, including trading system design approaches, understanding and challenging product requirements, and completing hardware verification and validation
  • Ability to break and analyze problems down to the fundamental physics; strong optics fundamentals
  • Expert with CAD, ray tracing, and finite element analysis design tools; optics modeling and simulation, computer vision
  • Proficiency writing software for modeling, data collection and analysis, controls, and image processing, preferably in Python
  • High level of proficiency with lab equipment for development optics testing, including sophisticated test definition, troubleshooting, data collection, and data reduction techniques
  • Portfolio of implemented projects with a description of the candidate's contribution
  • Ability to work in a fast paced, self-starting, and demanding atmosphere; excellent communication skills both written and verbal; and demonstrated leadership in a team environment
  • Cross functional project management skills and ability to collaborate with other engineering disciplines, as demonstrated on multiple programs


  • Extended hours and weekend work may be required to support critical project and mission milestones


Pay range:
Sr. Optical Sensors Engineer: $130,000.00 - $180,000.00/per year

Your actual level and base salary will be determined on a case-by-case basis and may vary based on the following considerations: job-related knowledge and skills, education, and experience.

Base salary is just one part of your total rewards package at SpaceX. You may also be eligible for long-term incentives, in the form of company stock, stock options, or long-term cash awards, as well as potential discretionary bonuses and the ability to purchase additional stock at a discount through an Employee Stock Purchase Plan. You will also receive access to comprehensive medical, vision, and dental coverage, access to a 401(k) retirement plan, short and long-term disability insurance, life insurance, paid parental leave, and various other discounts and perks. You may also accrue 3 weeks of paid vacation and will be eligible for 10 or more paid holidays per year. Exempt employees are eligible for 5 days of sick leave per year.


  • To conform to U.S. Government export regulations, applicant must be a (i) U.S. citizen or national, (ii) U.S. lawful, permanent resident (aka green card holder), (iii) Refugee under 8 U.S.C. § 1157, or (iv) Asylee under 8 U.S.C. § 1158, or be eligible to obtain the required authorizations from the U.S. Department of State. Learn more about the ITAR here.

SpaceX is an Equal Opportunity Employer; employment with SpaceX 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, gender identity, marital status, mental or physical disability or any other legally protected status.

Applicants wishing to view a copy of SpaceX’s Affirmative Action Plan for veterans and individuals with disabilities, or applicants requiring reasonable accommodation to the application/interview process should notify the Human Resources Department at (310) 363-6000.