Associate Mission Operations Specialist

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
Archive Date: 
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
To event remaining 59 days
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Institution Classification/Type: 
SOFIA / Universities Space Research Association
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

The Associate Mission Operations Specialist (Associate MOS) provides flight and ground support involving the SOFIA Telescope Assembly (TA) and Facility Science Instruments (FSI).   Day-to-day activities include but are not limited to: operating the TA and FSIs during flights and ground operations, troubleshooting TA and FSI issues, completing Day-of-Flight checklists to prepare SOFIA for operations, assisting scientists and engineers in the instrument labs, preparing reviews of mission plans for upcoming flight series, preparing post-flight reports, and providing input for improvements to user interfaces.

Essential Duties/Responsibilities:

  • Operate the SOFIA Telescope Assembly (TA) and Facility Science Instruments (FSI) to support science data acquisition.
  • Maintain operational logs and fault reports for TA and FSI performance and communicate issues appropriately.
  • Execute Day-of-Flight checklists to prepare the TA and FSIs for flight.
  • Provide up-to-date and reliable documentation of the TA and FSI performance.
  • Assist with the maintenance of the TA and FSI observing procedures.
  • Complete required trainings as scheduled.
  • Participate in integration, testing and validation for upgrades to the TA, mission systems, and observing modes for science instruments.
  • Participate in development of processes and procedures for safe and efficient operations of the TA and FSIs.

Additional Responsibilities: 

  • Ensure the protection of NASA and USRA intellectual property with respect to commercial and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) concerns through disclosures, patent applications, and adherence to NASA’s scientific and technical information dissemination guidelines.
  • Support efforts by USRA Management to ensure that USRA conducts its business operations in an effective, cost-competitive, and professional manner.

Other job-related duties as assigned.

Required Qualifications:


  • Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent in science, engineering, astronomy, or computer science is preferred, or equivalent experience / certification

Licenses, Certifications:

  • Incumbents must pass an annual physical examination to be qualified for flight duty, training, and minimum flight rate.
  • Must qualify for US Government Public Trust Clearance.
  • Must be able to complete a week of Foreign Affairs Counter Threat training to participate in international deployments.

Knowledge, Skills & Abilities:  

  • Teamwork and the ability to work effectively with a diverse group of scientists, engineers, technicians, and administrators, in a professional and courteous manner.
  • Knowledge of software and hardware systems, UNIX/Linux, Mac OS, Windows, Java, or Python.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office and its applications.
  • Must be safety conscious, willing to participate in safety training and assume safety responsibilities in flight.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication in English is required.
  • Ability to write routine reports and correspondence and speak effectively before groups.
  • Ability to identify, analyze, and address problems using a wide range of analysis and solution strategies.

Working Conditions:

  • The employee must be capable and proficient at performing all duties in a technical/scientific setting including offices, laboratories, shops, and aircraft maintenance facilities as well as on the aircraft/observatory, both while on the ground and during flights. Must be proficient at working in time critical and/or high pressure/stress environments.
  • The employee may occasionally be exposed to fumes or airborne particles. The employee may be exposed to moving equipment, vehicles and mechanical parts.  The noise level in the work office environment is typically mild.  The environment on the aircraft during flight operations may become noisy, cold, and tiring.
  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently required to stand, walk, sit, and use hands. Keyboarding for large time spans each day will be a significant part of this position.  The employee may need to lift and/or move up to 50 pounds. 
  • Must be able to complete a set rotation of flights and be prepared to work night shift operations when scheduled to do so (estimated 60% of the time), and occasional weekend and holiday work.
  • Work on the SOFIA Program is in a highly visible public setting. There can be no expectation of personal privacy while performing the job.


Domestic and international travel (up to 3 months for international deployment). Up to 30% travel.

Applicants should apply to the posting at USRA Careers and include a letter of interest, resume, or curriculum vita. Additional information on USRA can be found at

USRA is an Equal Opportunity Employer: Minorities / Females / Protected Veterans / Disabled / Sexual Orientation / Gender Identity.

Application Deadline: 
Wednesday, January 6, 2021
Selection Deadline: 
Wednesday, January 6, 2021
Current Status of Position: 
No Status Given (Opted Out)
Apply to Job
Attention To: 
Ben Tanis
Talent Acquisition
SOFIA / Universities Space Research Association
Inquiries About Job
Attention To: 
Ben Tanis