Staff Software Engineer - Platforms and Development Environments

Remote (USA) or Sunnyvale, CA /
Software Engineering /
Full Time
/ Remote
About Kairos Aerospace

At Kairos Aerospace, we combine innovative aerospace systems with advanced data science. Unlike traditional aerospace companies, we sell information, not hardware - we operate our sensors cost-effectively at continental scale to produce novel data streams about pressing global problems.
First on our list: spotting hard-to-monitor emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that accelerates climate change. Since starting continuous survey operations in 2018, Kairos has removed methane emissions equal to over 9.2 million tonnes of CO2e through our work. To put that in perspective, that’s equivalent to over 2 million cars being removed from the roads for a year or shutting down about seventeen 350 MW coal-fired power plants.
We call that a good start.
As a team, we love science and engineering, we love getting our hands dirty with hardware and software, and we love seeing our work make a difference in the real world.
We’ve created a diverse, collaborative, supportive, and fun environment based on integrity and treating people right. So no matter your gender, gender identity, race, age, beliefs, sexual orientation, or disabilities, we welcome you and would like to work with you. :-)
It’s never boring, it’s always challenging, and we’re usually laughing.

Software Engineering at Kairos

Everything that Kairos does is driven by software, from recording sensor data while flying at 3000', to ephemeral high-scale cloud-native data processing, to computer-aided GIS analysis, to using machine-learning to extract structured information from geopixels.
The software engineering team is involved in every step of our process, building the automation that allows Kairos to not only image things that humans have never seen before but to do it reliably, repeatably, inexpensively, and quickly. (Yes, you can have all four).
We work primarily in Python, with a smattering of Bash, SQL, Terraform, and Typescript when it makes sense.

We work on single-board-computers, field laptops, in virtualized cloud environments, in containers, inside of web browsers, and even inside lab automation frameworks.
We practice compositional engineering, tying together disparate pieces of technology to create novel artifacts that solve real-world problems.
We practice continuous integration and deployment, automated testing, and have a lovely monorepo.
In short, it's a playground for the skilled generalist.

Platforms and Development Environments

Two of the unique aspects of the data we produce in chasing down the source of methane emissions is how much we rely on numerical computing and GIS (Geospatial Information Systems). We work in primarily in Python, which is a language and eco-system that's well-suited to both of those areas. To ensure consistent results in these notoriously sensitive and hard-to-predict computational areas, we invest heavily in creating pre-built environments that have carefully curated versions of key binary libraries and Python modules. Creating these environments saves our teams from a whole genre of headaches and hard-to-detect and even hard-to-troubleshoot software bugs and calculation errors.

We're looking for experienced engineers, likely from a sysadmin / systems engineering and/or DevOps background to own this area for the whole company. The environments you design, implement and ship will be used everywhere we write and run code, from developer workstations, to continuous-integration systems, to cloud-based data processing workloads and even into our sensor systems that we fly over oil fields to find fugitive emissions.


    • Curate reproducible builds of container images and Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) that represent a consistent environment to be used in various contexts
    • Build, test, and distribute custom builds and patched versions of apt and Python packages to meet the needs of the Kairos software engineering team
    • Design and implement build, testing, and distribution strategies for environment images for both containers and full virtual machines
    • Support multi-architecture environments (we support coding on ARM, but deploy on x86... for now)
    • Manage a roadmap of periodic upgrades of our environments to ensure that our environments are secure and up-to-date
    • Aid in system engineering efforts around maintaining and optimizing build, test. and deploy strategies for our application software CI/CD systems
    • Act as occasional troubleshooter on low-level system issues as they come up in the cloud or in our hangar and/or flight systems
    • Be part of a larger systems brain trust supporting Kairos computing in every context we operate

Required Skills

    • Experience with Debian packaging including custom package builds, patching, and publishing to a private apt repository
    • Experience with Python dependencies and packaging
    • Systems administration experience in setting up images for developers and production workloads
    • Experience using CI/CD systems to create system images
    • Experience with Docker-like Linux containers
    • Ability to code in Python
    • Ability to code in Bash
Life at Kairos

A few important facts about working at Kairos Aerospace:
- We provide health, dental, and vision insurance, including subsidized coverage for dependents. Our 401K plan does matching based on the amount of methane we removed from the atmosphere in a given year.
- We think death-march hours are a bad way to run a company. We expect something approximating a 40-hour workweek, but mostly we just care that your work gets done. No, really. (Full disclosure: we occasionally put in some extra hours during crunch periods, but that is the exception, not the norm).
- We do not track vacation time, nor do we have set hours to be in the office. Instead, we encourage taking real vacations, mental health days, leaving early to pick up the kids, working from home, time-shifting commutes, staying home when you're sick, ducking out to the gym - we believe work time should be flexible.
In this time of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have transitioned to 100% remote work aside from hardware and flight operations and plan to continue having remote positions in perpetuity.
(We love it when kids make a cameo in a video call.)