Launch Operations Engineer, Recovery (Starship)



Texas, USA
Posted on Friday, September 1, 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.


As a Launch Operations Engineer you will be focused on range management and vehicle recovery mission readiness. In this role, you will lead a team supporting offshore operations to troubleshoot, plan repairs, inform hardware improvements, improve maintenance, and verify mission readiness of mission specific recovery ground support equipment. You will be responsible for developing novel standard operating procedures for vehicle recovery and processing, cultivating partnerships with airspace and maritime regulatory agencies to ensure high-level communication, writing test plans and procedures to improve recovery efficiency for future missions, and taking extreme ownership to successfully recover and safe Super Heavy boosters and Starships.


  • Support operational engineering duties for SpaceX’s Starship Range and Recovery efforts
  • Lead a team of engineers and technicians performing offshore Starship Recovery operations
  • Perform troubleshooting, upgrades, and system maintenance on hardware deployed on terrestrial, maritime, and air assets including mechanical, electrical, or control systems
  • Provide on-console engineering support during launch and major ground test operations
  • Identify areas of operational improvement & work with design teams to develop and implement innovative new solutions to the range and recovery efforts
  • Develop work instructions to support ongoing operations, maintenance, repairs, upgrades, and vendor contracts
  • Provide critical program information and interface with external parties/programs (FAA, USCG, etc.) to ensure compliance and alignment with the Starship program goals
  • Serve as the final authority to ensure all operations are conducted in a safe manner
  • Perform other related duties, as assigned, for the purpose of ensuring an efficient and effective work environment


  • Bachelor’s degree in mechanical, aerospace, naval, marine, electrical, or systems engineering or STEM discipline
  • 1+ years of experience building, maintaining, and modifying complex mechanical/electrical hardware or 1+ years of experience managing technical compliance or contracts in the aerospace/marine field


  • High levels of personal autonomy and self-driven motivation
  • Ability to thrive in ambiguous requirements and aggressive timelines
  • Experience troubleshooting and maintaining mechanical/electrical systems and associated control hardware
  • Demonstrated experience setting test objectives, writing test plans, and executing hands-on testing
  • Strong interpersonal skills and ability to work effectively in a team environment, accomplishing tasks with limited resources at a rapid pace
  • Demonstrated history of working efficiently with hazardous systems (high pressure, high voltage, cryogenic, toxic, flammable, hypergolic, pyrophoric)
  • Demonstrated experience conducting effective root cause and failure analysis
  • Ability to read, understand and apply technical drawings, data reports, mechanical schematics, electrical schematics, and design specifications
  • Experience working and building hardware in an offshore and/or marine environment
  • Experience interfacing with government and regulatory bodies
  • Experience in drafting and reviewing legal agreements and processes
  • Experience operating and troubleshooting remote-operated ground control systems
  • Experience with critical operations where real-time decision-making affected success criteria
  • Ability to prioritize and execute tasks in a high-pressure environment
  • Self-motivated and directed with keen attention to detail
  • Ongoing drive for continuous improvement in all aspects of work
  • Detail oriented, organized, and demonstrate a high sense of urgency


  • Ability to support offshore operations and willing to work offshore for extended duration without access to emergency services normally available on shore
  • Ability to climb ladders, work at height, and work in tight/confined spaces
  • Hardware is typically built in tight quarters and physical dexterity is required
  • Willing to work with hazardous materials
  • Ability to perform job duties that require standing, kneeling, crouching, twisting upper body, working in cramped positions in small openings, climbing hand over hand, and lifting 25 lbs.
  • Willing to work in extreme outdoor environments – heat, cold, rain, wind, open ocean
  • Hours vary depending on site operational needs; flexibility required
  • Must be willing to travel
  • Must pass Air Force background checks for Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg
  • Ability to operate heavy machinery
  • Ability to pass offshore physical fitness testing if required
  • Position is subject to pre-employment drug and random drug and alcohol testing


Pay range:
Recovery Operations Engineer/Level I: $95,000.00 - $115,000.00/per year
Recovery Operations Engineer/Level II: $110,000.00 - $130,000.00/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.