Chief Flight Sciences Engineer

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Sierra Space’s vision is to enable humanity to begin new civilizations beyond Earth. The Engineering team brings that vision to life. The Chief Flight Sciences Engineer leads the Sierra Space flight sciences engineering community as the recognized industry expert in this field. This role is enterprise-wide across all Sectors, including Space Transportation, Destinations, and Applications. Topics include but are not limited to: Aerodynamics, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), Wind Tunnel and Flight Test, Trajectories and Aborts, Modeling and Simulation, and Dynamic Loads. This role is responsible for enterprise execution of, and accountability for, the flight sciences engineering related elements of space programs (along with the program manager and program engineering lead). The Chief Flight Sciences Engineer also provides the mentoring, best practices, tools and guidance for the Sierra Space Flight Sciences engineering population. This role reports to the VP of Engineering.

SNC’s subsidiary, Sierra Space, based in Louisville, Colorado with operations in Madison, Wisconsin and Durham, North Carolina, designs and manufactures advanced spacecraft, satellites, propulsion and environmental systems, spacecraft subsystems and components for the U.S. government (including NASA), commercial customers and international organizations. Learn more about Sierra Space

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Full lifecycle design, development, test, deployment, and operational support of flight sciences work products in Sierra Space.

  • Builds and leads a team of world-class space flight sciences engineers to develop commercial-based products in a dynamic accelerated environment.  Ensures Sierra Space flight sciences engineer competency.

  • Collaborates with other subject matter expert directors to ensure product performance meets/exceeds mission requirements. Also participates in strategic technology development of unique capabilities and experiences for Sierra Space’s mission offerings.

  • Supports Model-Based approaches (Model Based System Engineering – MBSE, Model Based Definition – MBD, etc) in an Integrated Digital Enterprise (IDE) to ensure integrity and utility of digital twin/digital thread.

  • Develops and manages program technical/cost/schedule baselines in collaboration with Program/Product managers.  Management may include dealing with relevant suppliers on a technical and contractual level.    Works with Program Managers to define required skills and support acquisition of key engineering talent.

  • Review, approve and monitor program structures and mechanisms engineering implementation and execution. Topics include; Product Lifecycle Management, GD&T, CAD / MBD tools, flight science models and analyses, testing, and design / build / test.

  • Development, deployment, maintenance, and training of engineering policies, processes and procedures related to flight sciences engineering that are on the cutting edge of new-space industry practice.

  • Oversees flight sciences engineering execution on Sierra Space programs, organizations and external organizations. Manage a budget for engineering tools.  Support the integrated digital enterprise objectives.

  • Manage direct-report engineers including Human Resource tasks and budget.

  • The Chief Flight Sciences Engineer may specifically lead and mentor Flight Sciences Tasks including:

    • Mesh generation from CAD:  Unstructured and Structured for subsonic to hypersonic flow

    • Develop code and processes to efficiently setup, run and post-process both small and large CFD campaigns, insuring converged and validated results.

    • Lead efforts to define data requirements, test objectives, instrumentation and model specifications for CFD simulations, wind tunnel and flight testing

    • Prepare for and conduct Test Readiness Reviews for wind tunnel and flight tests, participate in testing, and reduce the data

    • Post-process wind tunnel data (hypersonic to landing speeds), with corrections for scaled-model to flight conditions

    • Model the effects of boundary layer transition on reentry

    • Develop models for fluid structure interactions from thermal, aerodynamic, vibrations on the vehicle and the individual control surfaces

    • Propose and evaluate alternative architectures for large aerodynamic and aerothermal databases, and make recommendations

    • Develop aerodynamic uncertainties from CFD, wind tunnel testing, analytical models and flight tests

    • Document database updates, with verification and validation

    • Analyze aerodynamic impacts due to external modifications, loads impacts due to external and internal modifications and conceptual designs and trade studies of vehicle configurations

    • Prepare and execute flight testing for aircraft / spacecraft performance and handling qualities

    • Act as an expert resource to the Flight Dynamics team for statistical modeling, error propagation, estimation and system identification, data smoothing, curve fitting, and interpolation methods

    • Support development and testing of the Dream Chaser flush air data system

    • Manage the outer mold line (OML) of each Dream Chaser airframe to ensure flight configurations are accurately captured in the aerodynamic data

    • Development of aerodynamic models and then use these model to develop trajectories including aborts analysis

    • Development of models across the various disciplines and projects into models to be deployed across the company for analysis, which would include verification and validation procedures


  • Requires a BA/BS in Related Field. Relevant work experience may substitute for required education.

  • Position requires a minimum of 15 years of experience in a related engineering environment, including management of high-performing teams.

  • Demonstrated experience in all phases of design lifecycle management to include: Requirements, Design, Integration, Test, and Sustainment.


  • Experience in designing, analyzing, and testing complex flight sciences systems is required, to include:

    • MATLAB, Python, NASTRAN (NX or MSC) and FEMAP

    • System level spacecraft vibration, acoustic, and or shock analysis and testing

    • Random Vibration analysis and testing

    • Shock analysis and testing

    • Acoustic analysis and testing

    • Environmental requirements verification and validation

    • Modal testing and tap testing, along with subsequent model correlation

    • Updating documents such as Environmental Design Databook (EDD) and component Environment and Test Specifications preferred

  • Industry-leading expertise in at least one major area of flight sciences engineering is required and working knowledge of other areas is preferred.

  • Master’s degree preferred

  • In addition to formal training in engineering or a hard science, a Masters degree in Engineering, Science, or Business Administration is desirable

  • The ability to obtain and maintain a Security Clearance may be required Learn more about the background check process for Security Clearances


To conform to U.S. Government international trade regulations, applicant must be a U.S. Citizen, lawful permanent resident of the U.S., protected individual as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3), or eligible to obtain the required authorizations from the U.S. Department of State or U.S. Department of Commerce.

With 30+ years of proven spaceflight heritage, Sierra Space has provided more than 4,000 space systems, subsystems and components to customers worldwide, and participated in more than 500 missions to space, including to Mars. The company has technology in production and in development to enable space habitats for short- and long-duration space travel, a fleet of Dream Chaser spaceplanes, and the first free-flying commercial space station. Please visit www.sierraspace.com to learn more about Sierra Space, its business areas, capabilities, programs, products and services.

Estimated Starting Salary Range: $180,679.95 - $248,434.93

Sierra Space offers annual incentive pay based upon performance that is commensurate with the level of the position.

Sierra Space offers a generous benefit package, including medical, dental, and vision plans, 401(k) with 150% match up to 8%, life insurance, 3 weeks paid time off, tuition reimbursement, and more.

As COVID-19 continues to significantly impact our employees, families and communities, we are taking action to address the increased risk and uncertainty COVID-19 and associated variants pose in the workplace. SNC is committed to supporting our employees while ensuring we continue to meet essential national security needs of our country.

With employee health and safety as our top priority, and as a federal contractor, SNC will continue to require COVID-19 vaccination status for all employees including new hires. In accordance with applicable requirements, all current and newly hired employees who are unvaccinated may be required to adhere to enhanced onsite safety protocols including weekly COVID-19 testing, face coverings, and social distancing. 

The status of applicable COVID-19 vaccination requirements are subject to change depending on applicable court orders and the course of ongoing litigation. Candidates may later be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or have an approved exemption. 

At Sierra Space, our mission is to dream, innovate, inspire and empower the next generation to transform humanity through technology and imagination. As an Equal Opportunity Employer, we welcome our employees to bring their whole selves to their work. Sierra Space is committed to fostering an inclusive, accepting, and diverse environment free of discrimination on the basis of race, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran. Contributions to Sierra Space come in many shapes and styles, and we believe diversity in our workforce fosters new and greater ways to dream, innovate, and inspire.

Sierra Space
Sierra Space

United States, Louisville, CO

Posted 4 months ago

Job offer closed

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