Director of Propulsion

El Segundo, California
Engineering – Propulsion /
/ On-site
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

Who you are:

You love rockets and rocket engines. You have been intimately involved in their design, build, test, and operation for over a decade. The tradeoffs between parameters and design solutions within the engine and between the engine and launch vehicle are second nature to you, as are mechanical, thermodynamic, and manufacturing fundamentals. You may have moved into management, but that doesn’t stop you from getting your hands dirty at the test site, in CAD, or in the factory.

What you will do at ABL:

You will take on a team of hungry engineers who want to design, build, and test engines that go to space. You will mentor and inspire your team. Working in rocket propulsion is a dream for many engineers – make yours excited to come in to work every day.

You will balance evolving and improving existing propulsion products at ABL with developing the next generation. This means putting your head down and problem solving the small details of designs and sequences with your team, while at the same time managing a robust, corporate-level long-term strategy.

You will help your team get to the next level, our engines to get to the next level, and our company to get to the next level. Come show us what you’ve got.


    • Lead a team of engineers with a breadth of background and experience ranges. This team will own the design, analysis, planning, building, acceptance testing, qualification, flight support and data reduction and will look to you for clear guidance and mentorship. 
    • Maintain team health through hiring, recognition, and effective performance management.  
    • Own full engine lifecycle, from development through qualification and flight. 
    • Own all engine components, from thrust chambers to turbopumps to valves, and actuators.  
    • Own engines as systems, from balances to layouts to sequences. 
    • Ensure engine designs and operations are cross-functionally optimized, trading performance, manufacturability, serviceability, and operability.  
    • Maintain the programmatic health of the propulsion department by understanding and owning risks, line of balance, upgrade paths, and future program needs.  
    • Clearly and consistently communicate prioritization and schedule. 
    • Maintain excellent working relationships with internal and external partners and suppliers.  
    • Collaborate with the ABL leadership team on developing the company vision and roadmap. 


    • Bachelor’s degree or higher in aerospace engineering or equivalent.  
    • 10+ years of industry experience in progressive technical and leadership roles. 
    • 5+ years of direct experience building and testing rocket engines 


    • Experience building and leading teams. 
    • Experience in product development from concept to production. 
    • Direct experience building and testing rocket engines.  
    • Iteration on rocket engine design, performance, and operations through flight experience.  
    • Proficiency using rocket engine performance and design codes, such as CEA, TDK, and RTE.  
    • Leadership of teams of 10 engineers or more.  
    • Experience interfacing with other launch vehicle teams to guide design requirements and performance parameters for systems interfacing with engines.  
    • Deep knowledge of the manufacturing techniques required for rocket engine production.  
    • Deep knowledge of thermodynamics and fluid mechanics.  


    • Ability to travel on short notice (Expect 10% travel). 
    • Ability to sit or stand for extended periods of time.  
    • Ability to life 50 pounds with reasonable accommodations.  
    • 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. 
$190,000 - $250,000 a year
The salary range for this role is $190,000 to $250,000. 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, permanent residents, asylees, and refugees) 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.