Head of Ground Automation Software

El Segundo, California
Engineering – Electronic Systems /
Full-time /
ABL Space Systems was founded in 2017 by veterans of SpaceX and Morgan Stanley to develop low-cost launch vehicles for the small satellite industry. More importantly, we’re building a launch system we are truly proud of – no gimmicks or over-design, just reliable, rapidly deployable launches. We’re an ambitious team with big goals and, together, we’re determined to prove that reaching space can be simple, efficient, and routine.  

When launch day arrives, we want you by our side

As Head of Ground Automation Software, you will be responsible for owning and architecting the ground software systems. The software you develop would be the glue between the physical world and our data collection systems. It will be used by engineers for development on engines or by Launch and Test engineers to control all the ground systems during launch operations. Your software would also collect data from all our sensors on our launch and test sites and control a multitude of control systems, VFDs, pumps, valves, hydraulic actuators, and more.


    • Responsible for the software architecture for Beckhoff and Phoenix contact PLCs.
    • Ability to integrate a variety of off the shelf control systems with our in-house systems (e.g., compressors, chillers, high speed DAQ systems).
    • Responsible for developing the HITL systems that allow you to test your software to its full extent to minimize issues when deploying to our launch or test sites.
    • Gather requirements from stakeholders that will be the basis for the ground software architecture.
    • Develop flexible and configurable software that is scalable.
    • Develop software for our engine test stands that will allow test engineers to do rapid development and test all engines that are used on our rockets. 
    • Provide technical mentorship and subject matter expertise throughout architecting the ground software systems. 


    • Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering or applicable engineering field.
    • +10 years of experience designing and integration controls software (or a master's degree with a minimum of 8 years of experience). 


    • Experience programming PLCs/Safety PLCs. Twinsafe/PLCnext.
    • Demonstrated successful large scale projects coding in C#, C++ and IEC61131-3 languages.
    • Ability to lead a team of software engineers as we grow and scale.
    • Experience with electromechanical systems.
    • Experience with MQTT, OPCUA and other publish/subscribe protocols.
    • Ability to work independently, identify areas of opportunity, present a solution and execute on it.
    • Experience designing scale-able distributed architectures
    • Experience integration a variety of different communication protocols, ethercat, ethernet/ip, profinet, modbus to a single/multiple controller(s)
    • Maintain excellent version control, configuration management (GIT)
    • Ability to break down and present complex architectures/issues to non-subject matter experts.
    • Interface with hardware design teams to optimize component selection based on software requirements.
    • Experience controlling DAQ hardware.
    • Experience with network debugging.
    • Experience with redundant control system design. 


    • Critical thinking: ABL engineers understand the “why” behind all design decisions, operational events and test outcomes.
    • Ability to deal with ambiguity: ABL engineers must be comfortable defining their own pathway to an objective.
    • End-to end ownership: projects are delivered fully complete and ready for flight.


    • Ability to sit or stand for extended periods of time
    • Ability to use a computer to complete assignments
    • Ability to communicate with individuals and groups in person, by phone and telepresence
    • While performing the duties of this job, the employee will typically work in an office environment.
    • This role requires occasional travel to our launch and test sites
$160,000 - $215,000 a year
The salary range for this role is $160,000 - $215,000. This is the lowest to highest salary we reasonably and in good faith believe we would pay for this role at the time of this posting. We may ultimately pay more or less than the posted range, and the range may be modified in the future. An employee’s pay position within the salary range will be based on several factors including, but not limited to, relevant education, qualifications, certifications, experience, skills, geographic location, performance, and business or organizational needs.
We offer a comprehensive package of benefits including paid time off, medical/dental/vision insurance, and 401(k) to eligible employees.
ITAR Requirement
This position requires access to information protected under US export control laws, including the International Traffic in Arms Regulations and/or the Export Administration Regulations.  As such, US person status (including US citizens, U.S. permanent residents, individuals granted U.S. asylum status, or individuals admitted in U.S. refugee status) is a required qualification for this position.

Equal Opportunity Employer
We are an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, national origin, protected veteran status, disability, genetics, or citizenship status (when otherwise legally authorized to work and access export-controlled data) and will not be discriminated against on the basis of such characteristics or any other status protected by the laws or regulations in the locations where we operate. We encourage applicants of all ages.