Propulsion Engineer (Falcon Vehicle Operations)



hawthorne, ca, usa
Posted on Tuesday, June 4, 2024

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.


The Falcon Vehicle Operations team is dedicated to delivering Falcon and its payloads to orbit reliably and rapidly. Propulsion Engineers on this team are the system experts for all integrated stage propulsion systems and their operation on Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles.

The stage propulsion systems consist of: propellant measurement, management, and feed systems, tank pressurization systems, attitude control systems, pneumatic systems, hydraulic systems, primary and secondary structures, and thermal protection systems. The Propulsion Engineers on this team are responsible for understanding the intricacies of each system, the impact on the overall mission, and are positioned to troubleshoot and resolve anomalies, risks, and issues wherever needed.

Propulsion Engineers on this team are responsible for ensuring every vehicle is flight worthy, up through supporting test and launch operations on-console from mission control. Additionally, engineers on this team are responsible for developing and validating system checkouts, designing integrated stage system tests, preflight mission planning and design, flight readiness and post-flight reviews, and driving system anomaly investigations to resolution.

As the stage propulsion system experts, this role is strategically positioned to drive vehicle design evolution, performance optimization, and operational efficiency.


  • Take sole responsibility for a given Falcon stage’s success through test and launch
  • Maintain a comprehensive understanding of all stage propulsion systems and operation
  • Define, implement, and validate checkouts and system requirements
  • Define, implement, and execute on test and mission objectives
  • Represent stage propulsion systems during test and launch operations live on-console from mission control
  • Perform post-test and post-flight data reviews
  • Lead anomaly investigations and drive investigations to resolution
  • Solve undefined and multi-disciplinary problems, collaborating with engineering teams across SpaceX (e.g. thermal and fluid analysis, structures, guidance navigation and control, avionics, engines, test, and launch)
  • Identify and drive vehicle trades, including trades in design, operations, and performance
  • Develop software tools to improve mission workflow efficiency
  • Optimize test and mission operations to safely enable a rapidly increasing, industry-leading, launch rate


  • Bachelor’s degree in mechanical, aerospace/aeronautical, or chemical engineering discipline
  • 3+ years’ professional experience with propulsion systems, fluid systems, and/or integrated vehicle test engineering


  • Strong understanding of thermodynamics, and fluid mechanics (compressible and incompressible)
  • Working knowledge of statics, mechanics of materials, and pressurized structures
  • Familiarity with basic concepts of control systems and free-body dynamics
  • Strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and exceptional attention to detail
  • Experience working with pressurized fluid systems such as: high-pressure systems, pneumatic systems, hydraulic systems, cryogenic propellants, pressure control devices, valves, tubes/pipes, diffusers, and fittings
  • Experience testing aircraft, rocket stage or engine systems, or other fluid systems
  • Experience with integrated flight operations (flight, on-orbit, or launch)
  • Familiarity with common aerospace instrumentation (pressure transducers, RTDs)
  • Hands-on hardware experience performing fabrication, integration, assembly, and testing or operation (professional, academic, entrepreneurial, or hobbies)
  • Demonstrated track record of success in a rapidly changing, highly technical, and data-driven environment - ability to act and execute in a scrappy, entrepreneurial manner against tight timelines while appropriately managing risk
  • Excellent communication skills (both written and verbal) and ability to succinctly communicate in high-stakes, time-sensitive situations
  • Working knowledge of Python
  • Working knowledge of version-controlling software such as SVN and/or GIT


  • Must be willing to work extended hours and weekends as needed
  • Must be willing to travel in support of test and launch operations
  • Ability to pass Air Force background check for Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg AFB


Pay Range:

Propulsion Engineer/Level I: $95,000.00 - $115,000.00/per year

Propulsion 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.