Senior Spacecraft Systems Engineer



Software Engineering
San Francisco, CA, USA
Posted on Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Welcome to Planet. We believe in using space to help life on Earth.

Planet designs, builds, and operates the largest constellation of imaging satellites in history. This constellation delivers an unprecedented dataset of empirical information via a revolutionary cloud-based platform to authoritative figures in commercial, environmental, and humanitarian sectors. We are both a space company and data company all rolled into one.

Customers and users across the globe use Planet's data to develop new technologies, drive revenue, power research, and solve our world’s toughest obstacles.

As we control every component of hardware design, manufacturing, data processing, and software engineering, our office is a truly inspiring mix of experts from a variety of domains.

We have a people-centric approach toward culture and community and we strive to iterate in a way that puts our team members first and prepares our company for growth. Join Planet and be a part of our mission to change the way people see the world.

Planet is a global company with employees working remotely world wide and joining us from offices in San Francisco, Washington DC, Germany, and The Netherlands.

About the Role:

Planet is designing and building our next generation of satellites to replace our current fleet, from high resolution optical imaging satellites (Pelican) to hyperspectral satellites (Tanager), and many other missions in collaboration with our Advanced Concepts Group.

We are currently seeking a Spacecraft Systems Engineer to lead the design, build, and operation of our next generation of satellites. As a spacecraft technical lead, you will guide the engineering team through the requirement formulation, design, verification and validation (V&V), and integration, assembly and testing (AI&T) phases for a new satellite. You will also interface with our Product team to ensure that our satellites meet our customer’s needs, with our Manufacturing leads to transfer our satellites for mass production, and our Mission Operations leads to ensure the proper on-orbit operations of our future fleets.

This position will require the candidate to work 3 days a week at our headquarters in San Francisco, CA. The role will involve travel up to 10% of the time to (domestic) to vendor facilities, environmental test shops, and partner and government organizations.

Impact You’ll Own:

The candidate will be responsible for:

  • Lead the formulation of requirements for a new space mission.
  • Drive the design of the satellite, including subsystem interfaces, system level budgets, and multidisciplinary and multi-organizational design trades.
  • Lead the technical coordination of multiple engineering teams, including Mechanical, Thermal, ADSCS/GNC, Propulsion, Electrical, and Manufacturing engineering teams.
  • Develop and execute plans for validation and verification of the satellite system, including both environmental and functional testing.
  • Participate in the assembly, integration and testing of the first satellites, including troubleshooting, resolving any issues that arise, and lead the implementation of lessons learned.
  • Collaborate with our data product team to ensure that the satellite system meets the needs of our customers.

What You Bring:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering or similar.
  • 5+ years of experience in the design and development of satellite systems.
  • Understanding of one or multiple satellite subsystems, including Mechanical, Thermal, ADSCS/GNC, Propulsion, or Electrical.
  • Experience with requirement formulation, validation, and verification.
  • Experience with satellite testing, including both functional and environmental testing
  • Demonstrated leadership skills and ability to effectively manage the collaboration across many technical teams.
  • Excited by working in an agile, fast-paced environment, even in times of uncertainty and ambiguity.

What Makes You Stand Out:

  • Master's degree in Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering or similar.
  • 6+ years of experience working in the satellite industry, including design/analysis, AI&T and/or V&V.
  • Work experience with structural or thermal analysis, or qualification for launch and on-orbit environments.
  • Knowledge of industry standards for small satellites (50-200 kg).
  • Solid understanding of the product development lifecycle process, including analysis and design, development tools and technologies, release and version control, contemporary testing methodologies and deployment management.
  • Experience providing mentorship for engineers from diverse disciplines

Benefits While Working at Planet:

  • Comprehensive Health Plan
  • Wellness program and onsite massages in specific offices
  • Flexible Time Off
  • Recognition Programs
  • Commuter Benefits
  • Learning and Tuition Reimbursement
  • Parental Leave
  • Offsites and Happy Hours
  • Volunteering Benefits


The US base salary range for this full-time position at the commencement of employment is $144,500 - $180,600. Additionally, this role might be eligible for discretionary short-term and long-term incentives (bonus and equity). The final salary range is determined by job related experience, skills and location. The range displays our typical hiring range for new hire salaries in US locations only. Your recruiter can share more about the specific salary range for your preferred location during the hiring process.

Why we care so much about Belonging.

We’re dedicated to helping the whole Planet, and to do that we must strive to represent all of it within each of our offices and on all of our teams. That’s why Planet is guided by an ultimate north star of Belonging, dreaming big as we approach our ongoing work with diversity, equity and inclusion. If this job intrigues you, but you’re thinking you might not have all the qualifications, please... do apply! At Planet, we are looking for well-rounded people from around the world who can contribute to more ways than just what is listed in this job description. We don’t just fill positions, we aspire to fulfill people’s careers, most excited about folks who are motivated by our underlying humanitarian efforts. We are a few orbits around the sun before we get to where we want to be, so we hope you’re excited to come along for the ride.

EEO statement:

Planet is committed to building a community where everyone belongs and we invite people from all backgrounds to apply. Planet is an equal opportunity employer, and committed to providing employment opportunities regardless of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding, age, sexual orientation, military or veteran status, or any other protected classification, in accordance with applicable federal, state, and local laws. Know Your Rights.


Planet is an inclusive community and we know that everyone has their own needs. If you have a disability or special need that requires accommodation during the hiring process, please call Planet's front office at (415)-829-3313 or contact your recruiter with your request. Your message will be confidential and we will be happy to assist you.

Privacy Policy: By clicking "Apply Now" at the top of this job posting, I acknowledge that I have read the Planet Data Privacy Notice for California Staff Members and Applicants, and hereby consent to the collection, processing, use, and storage of my personal information as described therein.

Privacy Policy (European Applicants): By clicking "Apply Now" at the top of this job posting, I acknowledge that I have read the Candidate Privacy Notice GDPR Planet Labs Europe, and hereby consent to the collection, processing, use, and storage of my personal information as described therein.