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Senior Systems Engineer - Propulsion

Company:  Ball Aerospace

Boulder, CO, US, 80301

Date:  Sep 10, 2022
Job Category:  Engineering/ Technical
Req. ID:  19462

Ball Aerospace is powered by endlessly curious people who promote a sense of belonging and equality with an unwavering mission focus. We pioneer discoveries that enable our customers to perform beyond expectation and protect what matters most. What’s more, our company balances listening to experiences, providing feedback, and partnership at all levels to create a more inclusive environment. Our team members are able to fully invest in the work that they do, bringing dynamic thinking and energy to Ball Aerospace. 


We create innovative space solutions, enable more accurate weather forecasts, drive insightful observations of our planet, deliver actionable data and intelligence, and ensure those who defend our freedom go forward bravely and return home safely. For more information, visit Ball Aerospace Career Site or connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.


The Engineering Strategic Capabilities Unit comprises the organizational talent and technical leadership that enables the successful delivery of high-impact discriminating technologies for our customers’ missions. Our collaborative, cross-functional teams are committed to innovation, integrity, continual learning and strong execution.


Senior Systems Engineer - Propulsion


This position is for an experienced spacecraft propulsion systems engineer who can help our organization develop electrical propulsion solutions for emerging missions.


Your duties will include responsibility for the design, manufacture, procurement, and test for one or more propulsion systems, components and/or assemblies. This job requires coordination with customers, suppliers, test facilities, and other related fields including manufacturing, subcontracts, quality, structure design, analysis, systems engineering, and integration with affected subsystems and facilities. Work can include the complete life cycle of the system from definition, interfaces, conceptual design, detailed design, component development, procurement, assembly, testing, verification, launch preparations and on-orbit operations.


What You’ll Do:


  • Participate in the development of innovative propulsion solutions and architectures with a focus on Electric Propulsion (EP).
  • Lead an engineering team through the accommodation of new and/or refinement of existing propulsion systems including propulsion system/component sizing, requirement development and allocation, performance analyses, design tasks, integration, test, verification, launch and flight operations.
  • Lead/support new business development, proposal efforts, and/or flight projects (definition, design, AI&T, launch, operations).
  • Perform trade studies to select the applicable propulsion design solution.
  • Subcontract technical management including development of specifications, SOWs, interfaces and supplier data requirements.
  • Maintain subsystem technical baseline at the at Ball with supplier inputs.
  • Cost account management, resource and schedule management, develop subsystem plans, budgets, schedules, costing/pricing.
  • Technical writing (procedures, analysis support and description documents, test reports, SOWs, technical articles).
  • Mentor early-career engineers.
  • Work in an integrated collaborative team environment including daily interactions with technicians, engineers, and managers.
  • Maintain a regular and predictable work schedule.
  • Establish and maintain effective working relationships within the department, the Strategic Business Units, Strategic Capabilities Units and the Company. Interact appropriately with others in order to maintain a positive and productive work environment.
  • Perform other duties as necessary.


What You’ll Need:


  • BS degree or higher in Engineering or a related technical field is required plus 8 or more years related experience.
  • Each higher-level degree, i.e., Master’s Degree or Ph.D., may substitute for two years of experience. Related technical experience may be considered in lieu of education. Degree must be from a university, college, or school which is accredited by an agency recognized by the US Secretary of Education, US Department of Education.
  • Experience in either Systems Engineering or propulsion preferred.
  • Ability to work on a multi-disciplinary team performing design trades, detailed design/analysis activities and performance and maintenance assessments of operational systems.
  • Demonstrated experience leading multi-disciplinary teams including meeting cost, schedule, and performance goals.
  • Effective in small team-work environment with broad responsibilities and minimal oversight.
  • 5 years direct experience in a design and implementation related role preferred.
  • Electric Propulsion Subsystem Engineering experience with a solid understanding of the aspects of design, analysis, production, test, and operations.
    • Architectural understanding of propulsion and power components
    • Understanding of EP PPU topologies and their integration onto space vehicles
    • Knowledge of electric propulsion system types (e.g., HET, ion, PPT, FEEP, electrospray, etc.)
    • Knowledge of working with fluid and/or gas feed systems
    • Knowledge of EP system control and accommodation within a spacecraft
    • Knowledge of pointing mechanisms
  • A strong technical foundation in Spacecraft Propulsion.
  • Demonstrated ability to manage subcontracts.
  • Knowledge of vendors/subcontractors across core EP technologies areas with established relationships with key personnel within vendor/subcontractor community.
  • Excellent presentation skills with experience briefing senior decision making and technical audiences.
  • Ability to earn trust, maintain positive and professional relationships, and contribute to a culture of inclusion.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office suite including Outlook, Excel, Word & Project.
  • A desire to learn - our culture fosters intellectual curiosity.
  • Experience designing and/or testing in-space electric propulsion systems.
  • Familiarity with AFSPCMAN 91-710 and other Range Safety documentation and requirements.
  • Additional propulsion system-type knowledge is highly desirable:
    • Regulated Pressure Systems
    • Green
    • Bi-propellant
    • Cold gas
  • Experience with industry propulsion analytical tools is highly desirable (Python, C/C++, MATLAB).
  • Ability to balance rigor with risk tolerance to find the sweet spot in the cost, schedule, reliability, performance space for the subsystem.
  • Knowledge of low-thrust trajectory codes and their capabilities.
  • Direct knowledge of applied plasma physics.


Full-Time On-Site Work Environment: This position requires regular in-person engagement by working on-site full-time. Travel and local commute between Ball campuses and other possible non-Ball locations may be required.


Working Conditions:


  • Ball Aerospace is a drug-free workplace, which is imperative to the health and safety of all employees and is required as a condition of receiving contracts from federal agencies.  Please remember that regardless of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and other states, possession and use continues to be illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act.  This includes the use of some CBD products.  A post-offer, pre-employment drug test is a condition of employment. 
  • Work is performed in an office, laboratory, production floor, or cleanroom, outdoors or remote research environment.
  • May occasionally work in production work centers where use of protective equipment and gear is required.
  • May access other facilities in various weather conditions.


A current DoD clearance and/or SCI access with Polygraph is not required to be eligible for this position, however applicant must be willing and eligible for submission within 60-90 days after an offer is accepted and must be able to maintain the applicable clearance/access.  By applying to this position, you are agreeing to complete a National Security Clearance Pre-Screen Questionnaire to evaluate your general ability to obtain the required security clearance or government customer access associated with this position.


Relocation for this position is available.


Compensation & Benefits:


  • HIRING SALARY RANGE: $129,500 - $163,500 (Salary to be determined by the education, experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities of the applicant, internal equity, and alignment with market data.)
  • This position includes a competitive benefits package. For details, copy and paste into your browser or visit our careers site.




Ball Aerospace is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.  All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, protected veteran status, or disability status.


Nearest Major Market: Boulder
Nearest Secondary Market: Denver

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