Sr. Thermal Protection System Engineer



Cape Canaveral, FL, USA
Posted on Thursday, April 6, 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.


This position within the thermal protection system R&D team will develop and optimize low density alumina-silica refractory insulators. You will have the opportunity to utilize your knowledge, experience, and creativity to develop novel solutions in spacecraft reusability. You will work on designing, testing and analyzing materials for the next generation Starship spacecraft, designed to make humanity an interplanetary species. Role will require significant interface with the design & production engineers, providing the opportunity to continuously improve the production design processing as the team works to establish aircraft-like operations on Starship.


  • Develop and execute experiments, procedures and tests on developmental components.
  • Design and develop thermal protection hardware to enable and optimize vehicle’s heatshield on material properties and cost reduction.
  • Operate and use ceramic and chemical lab tools and equipment.
  • Work with process engineers to develop scalable production solution.
  • Closely collaborate with engineering staff from other departments and highly skilled technicians on a daily basis.
  • Manage and track multiple priorities while maintaining a focus on common project goals.


  • Bachelor's degree in materials science, mechanical engineering, or other engineering field.
  • 5+ years of professional experience in high-temperature ceramic or technical glass.
  • Experience with development of material systems from ideation to final product.


  • Master’s degree in an engineering discipline.
  • Experience working directly with system, design, and analysis engineers.
  • Familiarity with hypersonic, spaceflight, or re-entry operating environments, including material degradation mechanisms and failure modes.
  • Familiarity with TPS state-of-the-art and system level design.
  • Hands-on experience with TPS material, technologies and manufacturing.
  • Experience working on spacecraft or launch vehicles.
  • Experience in writing test plans and test procedures.
  • Experience interacting with CAD software and large CAD models.
  • Experience with data acquisition setup and field measurements.
  • Strong problem solving and critical thinking skills, with acute attention to detail.
  • Ability to rapidly change roles and responsibilities while working in a high-paced, challenging work environment.
  • Ability to work well in a team environment and communicate clearly and accurately with a wide range of people.


  • Ability to pass Space Force background check for Cape Canaveral.
  • Overall mental fitness with the ability to work in a high-concentration, high-stress environment requiring prolonged mental concentration (under possible extended work hours).
  • Occasional travel may be required.
  • Willingness to work outdoors.
  • 50 hour work weeks are typical, schedule varies depending on site operational needs, flexibility required.


Pay range:

Sr. Thermal Protection System Engineer: $125,000.00 - $175,000.00/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.