Mission Operations Lead – Starlab Program

Position:Mission Operations Lead - Starlab Program
Reports To:Lead System Engineer
Location:Webster, TX
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About Nanoracks

Nanoracks is a cutting-edge aerospace company focusing on providing commercial access to space, currently on the International Space Station (ISS), suborbital vehicles, expendable launch vehicles, and more! We have sent over 1,000 payloads to the Space Station, kickstarted the CubeSat deployment revolution, and have customers in over 30 nations.

Since 2009, Nanoracks has created and expanded new in-space markets and has been the world leader for ushering in a new era of in-space services. Currently, Nanoracks is working to build commercial space stations (“Outposts”) from the spent upper stages of launch vehicles in orbit. This technology will enable spent upper stages to be used as crewed and un-crewed space stations for various purposes and customers—both civil and commercial.

Nanoracks will provide and facilitate an ecosystem of interoperable technologies and distributed free flying space stations. You can read our approach here.

We hope you’ll apply to join our team. We work with leaders from all over the world, including NASA, universities and government centers both foreign and domestic, and commercial companies. We’re fast, fun, passionate, and love sending things to space.

What We're Looking For

Smart, talented, critical thinkers with an ability to handle responsibility in a dynamic and ever-changing landscape. You will own your projects and be results oriented. Nanoracks is a small company (70+ awesome people), but we interface with much larger organizations from around the world.  You will need to be able to work in small and large groups as well as simultaneously execute an entire project on time.

Nanoracks is building the first free-flying commercial low-Earth orbit space station, called Starlab. Starlab is a continuously crewed, free-flying, multifunctional space station dedicated to conducting advanced research, fostering industrial activity, and ensuring continued U.S. presence and leadership in low-Earth orbit. Starlab will feature one third of the volume and all the payload capability of the International Space Station, making it the most significant fully commercial endeavor in space in history. Starlab will also host the George Washington Carver (GWC) Science Park, the first in-space science park, and meet existing, and growing demand for commercial space activities. Starlab will launch on a single flight, targeted for 2028, completely outfitted with GWC Science Park hardware and will be fully functional immediately following spacecraft commissioning.  

Mission Operations Lead - Starlab Program


Nanoracks is looking for a highly experienced Mission Operations Manager, programmatically reporting to the Starlab Program Manager and functionally to the (Lead System Engineer), to be the programmatic Mission Operations Lead for the Starlab ground and space activity. The Mission Operations Lead will leverage their expertise in spacecraft operations to lead the Starlab Mission Operations process development and real time operations for Starlab. The Mission Operations Lead will report to the Program Manager and the entire Starlab team. The Mission Operations Lead will work with Starlab subject matter experts and guide subcontracts to develop and manage the Mission Operations process for Starlab.

The ideal candidate will leverage their extensive systems operations experience, preferably with background in manned space systems and leadership skills to guide the Starlab Program with the team of engineers and subcontractors to ensure Starlab meets its operational and goals and requirements on schedule and on budget to deliver the first-ever free-flying commercial space station.


Roles and Responsibilities:

  • Lead Flight Operations for human-rated low Earth orbiting (LEO) facility. NASA ISS flight or DOD operations experience is required. Lead Flight Operations for uncrewed space systems may be considered
  • Leadership experience of flight operations team members required
  • Real-time mission, payload and flight operations experience required
  • Knowledge of Guidance and Control for LEO operations
  • Knowledge of or experience in ground support teams and facilities
  • Experience in the development of flight procedures and flight rules required
  • Experience in developing system requirements for human rated systems per NASA requirements and procedures
  • Broad knowledge of a full range of space flight systems required
  • Proven ability to make flight vehicle decisions in real time and in the use of team members support for decision making
  • Extensive knowledge of, or direct experience in Flight Crew operations and mission training
  • Knowledge of human space flight requirements including Crew Certification and Safety requirements


Key Attributes/Qualifications:

  • 8-15+ years of work experience operating large, complex aerospace systems
  • Previous ISS and/or human space flight experience highly desirable
  • Capability and maturity to command the respect and critical performance of the operations team
  • Ability to communicate technical and programmatic information confidently and succinctly to various stakeholder communities including scientists, academics, engineering staff, executives, and investors—both nationally and outside the United States
  • Significant experience in the operation of human flight systems, ability to develop concepts of operations. operational requirements, processes, and procedures
  • Extensive experience developing operations procedures and flight rules, contingency operations based on preplanned failure situations and those that arise due to
  • Situational awareness experience during multiple operations in critical real time operations and create ad hoc action plans for contingency scenarios not previously envisioned
  • Experience working with multiple subcontractor teams to integrate complex subsystems into an integrated aerospace system
  • Experience with crew and cargo space flight transportation systems such as Shuttle, ISS, Artemis (SLS/Orion), Dragon, Cygnus, Dreamchaser, CST-100, and other smaller delivery systems
  • Experience with space system airlocks
  • Experience with visiting vehicle traffic modeling
  • Strong understanding of NASA’s design and construction, health and medical and safety standards
  • Understanding of United States export control laws and regulations
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher in engineering mechanical, electrical, aerospace), hard sciences (i.e. physics, materials science), computer science/engineering or mathematics from an accredited university
  • Strong oral and written communication skills for both technical and non-technical audiences
  • Ability to travel as necessary both domestic and foreign
  • Ability to obtain a security clearance


EEO Statement:

It is our policy to select, place, train and promote the most qualified individuals based upon relevant factors such as work quality, attitude and experience so as to provide equal employment opportunity for all employees in compliance with applicable local, state and federal laws and without regard to non-work related factors such as race, color, religion/creed, sex, national origin, age, disability, marital status, veteran stats, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship, genetic information, or other protected status. When applicable, our policy of non-discrimination applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including but not limited to recruiting, hiring, training, transfer, promotion, placement, lay-off, compensation, termination, reduction in force and benefits.

To conform to U.S. Government space technology export regulations, applicant must be a U.S. citizen as defined by ITAR (22 CFR §120.15) or eligible to obtain the required authorizations from the U.S. Department of State.

The statements contained in this job description are intended to describe the general content and requirements for performance of this job. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all job duties, responsibilities, and requirements. This job description is not an employment agreement or contract. Management has the exclusive right to alter the scope of work within the framework of this job description at any time without prior notice.


Competitive with local and industry standard.

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