Astronautical Engineer - Spacecraft Design and Analysis

Job Summary

Science Engineering
RAND Corporation
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement

Job Description

RAND has exciting opportunities for Astronautical Engineers interested in utilizing their skills and experience to impact National and Homeland Security policies at the highest levels. As a part of RAND’s research staff, Engineers design, execute, and disseminate results of research that assists public policy makers at all levels, private sector leaders in many industries, and the public at large in efforts to strengthen the nation's economy, maintain its security, and improve quality of life. Engineers are expected to bring technical expertise to interdisciplinary team to bear on a wide range of policy problems across RAND’s research agendas.

Astronautical Engineers at RAND apply their skills to assess and develop future spacecraft designs (satellites, missiles, spacecraft, etc.) in support of the Department of Defense and other domestic clients. Astronautical Engineers make technical contributions to research at RAND in one or more of the following areas:

  • Spacecraft performance requirements
  • Astrodynamics
  • Propulsion
  • Space mission design and analysis
  • Controls
  • Bioastronautics
  • Modeling, simulation, and mathematical modeling


RAND is seeking aerospace engineers with experience in spacecraft design that encompasses a full understanding of astrodynamics, propulsion, and power and flight controls across the range of expected conditions. These conceptual designs and performance evaluations directly support RAND concept development, cost, effectiveness (survivability, lethality) and technology assessments often using complex and dynamic computer modeling and simulation (M&S) tools. Preferred applicants have experience supporting these types of higher-level analyses to include familiarity with classified Air Force and DoD engagement and mission M&S tools. Familiarity with standard aerospace computer aided design (CAD) tools is sought, along with relevant computer aided design (CAD) programming skills needed to perform conceptual design work.

Successful applicants will have evidence of strong skills in astronautical engineering, as demonstrated through experience in spacecraft programs and research centers; presentations and publication records; and, coursework. All research positions at RAND require excellent analytic skills; the ability to communicate clearly and effectively in English, both orally and in writing; the ability to work effectively as a member of a multi-disciplinary team; and a strong commitment to RAND's core values of quality and objectivity.

Knowledge of models-based systems engineering principles and tools (operations analysis, subsystem models, emulators, and other tools) is required.

Research experience applying the above skills in government, industry, and/or academia is preferred. Familiarity with military and intelligence community space mission areas and requirements, and experience with MATLAB, python or similar models are also preferred.

Education Requirements

A Ph.D., M.S., or B.S. in an Engineering field (or similar) is required, with strong preference for those with aeronautical, aerospace, or mechanical engineering degrees. Applicants with a masters degree must have at least 5 years of professional or academic experience; applicants with a bachelors degree must have at least 10 years of professional or academic experience. Preference will be given to those with strong aeronautical coursework and educational experience.

Security Clearance

Candidates must be able to obtain and maintain a U.S. security clearance. Please note that U.S. citizenship is required to obtain and maintain a government security clearance.


Santa Monica, CA; Washington, DC; Pittsburgh, PA

Writing Sample Required

A writing sample is required for this position. Applicants are encouraged to use pieces that have been published in academic or other journals but may use graduate theses or papers written for coursework, prior employment, or internships.

Salary Range

Associate Researcher: $94,800 - $148,350

Full Researcher: $109,600 - $181,075

Senior Researcher: $149,100 - $252,075

Hiring ranges for Economists, Management Scientists and Physician Researchers are slightly higher than the ranges shown.

RAND considers a variety of factors when formulating an offer, including but not limited to, the specific role and associated responsibilities; a candidate’s work experience, education/training, skills, expertise; and internal equity. Successful candidates will be offered employment as an Associate, Full, or Senior researcher in a specific title, as determined by the candidate's education and experience. The salary range includes base pay plus RAND’s sabbatic pay (which provides additional compensation above base pay when vacation is taken). In addition, RAND provides strong benefits including health insurance coverage, life and disability insurance, savings plan, paid time-off and more.

Equal Opportunity Employer: race/color/religion/sex/sexual orientation/gender identity/national origin/disability/vet

Compensation and Benefits

Compensation Range
$94,800USD to $252,075USD

Application Details

Publication Start Date
2023 Feb 22
Application Deadline
2023 Mar 29