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Thermal Engineer (Dragon & Falcon)



hawthorne, ca, usa
Posted on Friday, May 10, 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 Aero/Thermal/Fluids (ATF) group is tasked with a wide scope of analytical challenges associated with our workhorse launch vehicles and spacecraft: Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and Dragon. We aid responsible engineers in designing hardware to withstand all aero, aerothermal, and thermal loading in all phases of flight including ascent, on-orbit, and reentry. In addition, we play a key role in the design and analysis of the vehicle fluid systems such that we can satisfy the unique requirements of each mission. As a thermal engineer in the ATF group, you are primarily responsible for the thermal design, test and validation of SpaceX vehicles and hardware. You will make engineering decisions to improve our systems and increase the overall hardware performance to help achieve our goals. In addition, there will be ample opportunity to apply yourself in the other disciplines outlined in the group scope above.


  • Thermal design of spacecraft, launch vehicles, and hardware, from initial high-level analysis down to validation of performance with ground tests, flight, and orbital data (e.g. on-orbit thermal analysis, thermal protection system (TPS) sizing, acceptance / qualification test level derivation, issue ticket resolution).
  • Automate workflow to reduce engineering investment in the design cycle.
  • Pursue performance/robustness improvements.
  • Pursue operational simplicity and seek to reduce burden on other groups at SpaceX.
  • Produce quality documentation of your work to reduce miss-rate and improve efficiency.
  • Review peer work.


  • Bachelor's degree in an engineering discipline.
  • 1+ years of experience using programming languages including, but not limited to, Python, MATLAB and EES (internships and school projects apply).


  • Experience with Thermal Desktop and ANSYS Workbench.
  • Experience with 3D and reduced order thermal modeling.
  • Ability to identify analysis cases and quickly evaluate the impact of design decisions.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Ability to deliver against an aggressive schedule.
  • Experience sizing TPS using reduced order modeling.
  • Experience with Fully Implicit Ablation and Thermal Analysis Program (FIAT).
  • Experience with propulsion system design and analysis.
  • Experience created structured/unstructured meshes using Pointwise, StarCCM+, etc.
  • Experience running CFD codes (FUN3D, DPLR, US3D, LociChem).
  • Experience with Sinda/Fluent.
  • Some fundamentals in aerodynamics.


  • Must be available to work extended hours and weekends as needed.


Pay Range:
Thermal Engineer/Level I: $95,000.00 - $115,000.00/per year
Thermal 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 & long-term disability insurance, life insurance, paid parental leave, and various other discounts and perks. You may also accrue 3 weeks of paid vacation & 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.