Pasadena, California, United States

For this unique opportunity in the Entry, Descent, and Landing Guidance and Control Systems Group (3436) Autonomous Systems Division (34) you will be responsible for modeling and analyzing spacecraft sub-systems and environments, aggregating them into vehicle flight mechanics performance simulations used to analyze guidance, navigation and control (GN&C) embedded software performance. Performance scenarios for analysis include:

autonomous spacecraft GNC algorithm and flight mechanics performance assessment for:
Entry/De-Orbit, Descent, and Landing (EDL),
Asteroid/Comet Proximity operations,
Touch-and-Go Sampling,
and other in-situ autonomous spacecraft operations
interplanetary vehicle targeting and parameter selection for autonomous planetary landings,

Types of analyses include: flight mechanics performance margins determination/assessment,
autonomous system onboard parameter optimization,
flight mechanics outlier behavior investigations,
and vehicle/sub-system performance reliability assessment.
flight mechanics sensitivity studies,
and system-level uncertainty quantification.

Work in this area also includes associated data mining, metrics development, and reporting to customers in all mission phases of development (formulation through flight operations) – this includes developing state-of-the-art tools to perform the job described above.

Other responsibilities include:
Aiding fellow Guidance and Control Section (343) members in conceiving, designing, analyzing, simulating, overseeing, and assessing complex performance at the G&C subsystem level and flight vehicle level.

Leading small teams (2-5 people) that assess flight mechanics and perform independent verification and validation of GN&C performance at the subsystem and vehicle system level, as well as coordinating their efforts to document the performance of these systems during all phases of a flight mission.

  • Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering, or Mechanical/Electrical Engineering with a focus on space applications, or related technical discipline with typically a minimum of 6 years of related experience, or Master’s degree in similar disciplines with a minimum of 4 years of related experience, or Ph.D. degree in similar disciplines with a minimum of 2 years of related experience.
  • Understanding of Spacecraft Flight Mechanics fundamentals for modeling and analysis, such as orbital mechanics, aerodynamic modeling, and multi-body kinematics
  • A technical background in the areas of modern guidance, estimation and control with application to space systems (e.g. one or more of the following: orbiters, Fly-by, and proximity operations/entry, descent, and landing/touch-and-go, and aerocapture)
  • Experience modeling typical spacecraft actuator subsystems from a few of the following: liquid fuel thruster systems (pulsed and throttled), solid rocket motors, thrust vectoring systems, reaction wheels, solar array articulation actuators
  • Experience modeling typical spacecraft sensor subsystems from a few of the following: antenna pointing actuators, separations actuators, inertial sensors, passive (camera-based) sensors, radar/lidar sensors, sun sensors, stellar sensors, magnetometer sensors, magnetic torque rods
  • Experience exercising Sensitivity Study, Design/Parameter Optimization, and Uncertainty Quantification analysis techniques
  • Familiarity with aerodynamics, aerodynamic modeling, and aerothermal design considerations
  • Proficiency working in Linux OS using the shell and ssh for remote work
  • Proficiency in Python and C programming languages
  • Proficiency with at least one scientific computing analysis platform (e.g. Python SciPy stack (preferred), MATLAB, and/or Mathematica)
  • Experience working with modern software management for teams (configuration control and continuous integration and deployment, such as Git/GitHub/Jenkins/Artifactory)
  • A proven team player with growth potential to be an effective leader with excellent communication, interpersonal, verbal, prose writing, and presentation skills.
  • Additionally, it is highly desired that the candidate has a range of capabilities and experience drawn from any some of the following areas:
  • Experience with time-domain simulation of multi-rate embedded systems
  • Development of advanced EDL/DDL/Proximity Operations concepts for deep space (read: not Earth) exploration applications
  • Modeling/analyzing/testing atmospheric guidance and control sensor/software/hardware implementations (e.g. Apollo entry guidance w/ lifting capsule and pulse-width control roll thrusters)
  • Modeling /analyzing/testing terminal descent guidance and control implementations (e.g. gravity turn, polynomial guidance laws for pulse-width and/or throttled terminal descent thrusters)
  • Exposure to with Terrain-Relative Navigation techniques and sensors (e.g. cameras, LIDAR, RADAR)
  • Familiarity with soft-goods deployed aerodynamic decelerators (e.g. parachutes, ballutes, SIADs, HIADs)
  • Familiarity with C++ and FORTRAN programming languages
  • Familiarity with automated Python-based software testing frameworks (e.g. pytest or unittest)
  • Familiarity with Python Packaging Authority (PyPA) and/or conda software packaging
  • Familiarity with Docker/Singularity containers
  • Familiarity with large-scale “embarrassingly parallel” scientific computing using job management tools like PBSPro or SLURM.