Spacecraft Systems Engineer Degree

spacecraft systems engineer

Systems engineers collaborate across departments to define and communicate requirements. They conduct system-level trade studies and support reliability engineering efforts.

Kylene Eagle uses her problem-solving abilities in various capacities at Rocket Lab, an end-to-end space company offering launch and on-orbit operations. She contributes to designing and developing Photon – a satellite bus which supports innovative missions for NASA and commercial customers.


Spacecraft construction entails numerous components designed by various specialist teams. Systems engineers oversee this complex endeavor and interpret user needs into architectures; define building strategy; and ensure seamless integration of subsystems for optimal final result.

System engineering processes effectively “give birth” to projects, taking initial ideas and developing them into detailed blueprints and cost estimates for consideration by decision makers – ultimately the Member States of ESA in selecting which missions require their support.

At Millennium Space Systems, you’ll have an exciting opportunity to put formal systems engineering principles to use in designing and creating cutting-edge aerospace vehicles. Your analytical and problem solving abilities will play a pivotal role in optimizing complex systems powering aircraft and spacecraft that shape our future journey beyond Earth’s atmosphere. We deliver small satellites quickly on aggressive timelines with enormous rewards awaiting those willing to take calculated risks; at Millennium Space Systems this presents great career growth potential!


Spacecraft systems engineers ensure all subsystems on board a spacecraft work together seamlessly. This requires them to coordinate activities, run simulations and perform analyses while writing design documents and leading teams in completing projects.

Expert engineers can be found working for agencies like NASA or defense contractors or private space exploration companies like Rocket Lab. On launch day itself they may even provide engineering support.

Space mission engineers are also responsible for providing accurate cost estimates on space missions, which helps decision-makers assess whether to fund them or not. They do this by translating mission needs into system descriptions, designing its architecture and overseeing building strategies – serving as midwives of space missions that help turn concepts into tangible blueprints ready to be given out to other experts for construction.


This degree program will equip you to apply formal systems engineering techniques across all stages of space mission lifecycle development. You’ll explore its foundations while gaining hands-on integration and test experience in a lab environment.

Work alongside subject matter experts from real-life space missions like New Horizons Pluto and Dragonfly, developing real-world industry skills. You will use critical systems thinking to conceptualize an actual space mission concept before designing an integrated design of its spacecraft execution.

At Rocket Lab, systems engineers begin work on projects at their earliest Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs). Their contribution has been instrumental to Photon’s creation as an end-to-end space company that provides launch, on-orbit operations and satellites.


Spacecraft systems engineers are adept at translating user requirements into an architecture and building strategy that enables subsystems to come together seamlessly into an end product, including creating an extensive testing plan and running various analyses and simulations.

Spacecraft systems engineers work closely with subcontractors and vendors to ensure proper execution of testing and system validation procedures, develop technical budgets, as well as other essential project management functions.

At Rocket Lab, you will provide operations development and on-orbit operations of Photon satellites – such as those deployed for lunar CAPSTONE missions in 2021 – by designing software architecture and automating operations remotely operated small satellites.

Rocket Lab’s team is comprised of individuals with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills who bring our products and services to life. This diversity is our strength – what makes Rocket Lab such an engaging place to work!

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