Sr. Optical Engineer, Space Lasers (Starlink)



Redmond, WA, USA
Posted on Tuesday, July 25, 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.


At SpaceX we’re leveraging our experience in building rockets and spacecraft to deploy Starlink, the world’s most advanced broadband internet system. Starlink is the world’s largest satellite constellation and is providing fast, reliable internet to 1M+ users worldwide. We design, build, test, and operate all parts of the system – thousands of satellites, consumer receivers that allow users to connect within minutes of unboxing, and the software that brings it all together. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of Starlink’s potential global impact are looking for best-in-class engineers to help maximize Starlink’s utility for communities and businesses around the globe.

The Space Lasers team develops, produces, and deploys the most cutting-edge satellite free-space optical communicate systems in the world. As a member of the team, you’ll help define the laser communication system baseline for multiple company programs. You’ll build a reliable, efficient, high-data-rate laser communicate system by leading optical system design and verification. Your optical expertise will help shape our capabilities to transmit data in orbit.


  • Apply optics and photonics knowledge to laser communication system development, including design, analysis, and validation
  • Represent the laser communications system in program-level, cross-disciplinary trades and issue resolution
  • Define requirements for high-data-rate laser communication systems in challenging environments
  • Lead laser communication architecture definition through internal trade studies, concept of operations definition, and risk reduction testing
  • Participate in validation testing, including environmental qualification, performance characterization, reliability testing, and fault injection testing
  • Review test data and lead anomaly investigation and resolution
  • Develop test plans and define test systems
  • Maintain link budgets, design specifications, and system capabilities data
  • Interface with manufacturing and supply chain teams to ensure final designs can be produced in accordance with overall project goals
  • Collaborate with software and automation teams to develop test and production scripts and tools
  • Represent laser communications systems for reliability and risk discussions with internal reliability teams, management, customers, and vendors


  • Bachelor’s degree in physics or an engineering discipline
  • 5+ years of experience in optics, photonics, laser technology, or precision mechanical design or testing
  • 3+ years of experience in a computer programming language (e.g. C++, LabVIEW, and/or Python)


  • Master’s degree or PhD in physics or an engineering discipline
  • 1+ years of experience in a technical leadership position
  • Proficiency with optical analysis tools such as Zemax
  • Experience leading development of commercial communications products
  • Experience with hardware development for high-reliability applications
  • Experience with pointing, acquisition, and tracking
  • Ability to assess risk and make design and development decisions without all available data
  • Competence with optical test equipment (power meters, interferometer, laser sources)
  • Experience with infrared system alignment and characterization
  • Experience with thermal, vacuum, and vibration test equipment
  • Competence with Python scripting and a Linux operating system environment
  • Knowledge of and experience in lasers, photodiodes, fiber optics, optics testing/troubleshooting techniques, and signal integrity principles
  • Knowledge of and experience in free-space optical principles, optical component testing/troubleshooting techniques, precision metrology techniques, manufacturing and integration processes
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills


  • Ability to work extended hours or weekends as needed for mission critical deadlines


Pay range:

Sr. Space Lasers Engineer/Senior: $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.