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Sr. Laser Communications Engineer

SpaceX , Hawthorne, CA, United States
Employer Description

SpaceX was founded under the belief that a future where humanity is out exploring the stars is fundamentally more exciting than one where we are not. Today SpaceX is actively developing the technologies to make this possible, with the ultimate goal of enabling human life on Mars. SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft.

Revolutioning the space industry through reusability, Falcon, Falcon Heavy, and Dragon are frequent flyers for critical commercial and government missions. Starlink, SpaceX's satellite constellation, is in its early roll out and is intended to deliver low latency, broadband internet globally. Enabled by a constellation of low Earth orbit satellites, Starlink will provide fast, reliable internet to populations with little or no connectivity, including those in rural communities and places where existing services are too expensive or unreliable. 

Job Description


As a senior laser communications optical engineer, you will be responsible for laser communication system design, validation, and operation. You will help shape the laser communication system baseline for multiple company programs. You will build a reliable, efficient, high-data-rate laser communication system by leading optical system design and verification. Your optical expertise will shape SpaceX’s capabilities to transmit high-rate data via laser communication systems.


  • Apply optics and photonics knowledge to laser communication system development, including design, analysis, and validation
  • Represent the laser communications system in program-level, cross-disciplinary trades and issue resolution
  • Define requirements for high-data-rate laser communication systems in challenging environments
  • Lead laser communication architecture definition through internal trade studies, concept of operations definition, and risk reduction testing
  • Participate in validation testing, including environmental qualification, performance characterization, reliability testing, and fault injection testing
  • Review test data and lead anomaly investigation and resolution
  • Develop test plans and define test systems
  • Maintain link budgets, design specifications, and system capabilities data
  • Interface with manufacturing and supply chain teams to ensure final designs can be produced in accordance with overall project goals
  • Collaborate with software and automation teams to develop test and production scripts and tools
  • Represent laser communications systems for reliability and risk discussions with internal reliability teams, management, customers, and vendors
Job Requirements


  • Bachelor's degree in physics, optical engineering, or electrical engineering
  • 7+ years of experience in optical design or system design, integration, and test of laser communication systems


  • MS or PhD in physics, optical engineering, or electrical engineering
  • 1+ years of experience in a technical leadership position
  • Experience leading development of commercial communications products
  • Experience with hardware development for high-reliability applications
  • Experience with pointing, acquisition, and tracking
  • Ability to assess risk and make design and development decisions without all available data
  • Strong sense of accountability and integrity
  • Ability to work in a fast paced, autonomously driven, and demanding atmosphere
  • Competence with optical test equipment (power meters, interferometer, laser sources)
  • Experience with infrared system alignment and characterization
  • Competence with Python scripting and a Linux operating system environment
  • Knowledge of and experience in lasers, photodiodes, fiber optics, optics testing/troubleshooting techniques, and signal integrity principles
  • Knowledge of and experience in free-space optical principles, optical component testing/troubleshooting techniques, precision metrology techniques, manufacturing and integration processes
  • Passion for advancing the commercial space industry
  • Strong work ethic and drive to succeed
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills


  • Extended hours and weekend work, as needed, in support of critical milestones and operational needs


  • To conform to U.S. Government space technology export regulations, including the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) you 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. Learn more about the ITAR here

SpaceX is an Equal Opportunity Employer; employment with SpaceX is governed on the basis of merit, competence and qualifications and will not be influenced in any manner by race, color, religion, gender, national origin/ethnicity, veteran status, disability status, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, mental or physical disability or any other legally protected status.

Applicants wishing to view a copy of SpaceX’s Affirmative Action Plan for veterans and individuals with disabilities, or applicants requiring reasonable accommodation to the application/interview process should notify the Human Resources Department at (310) 363-6000.

10 August 2019
09 September 2019
Bachelor's Degree
Optical Components, Lasers, Sensors