Spacecraft Command & Data Handling Engineer - #0044188

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Saturday, March 7, 2020
Archive Date: 
Saturday, April 4, 2020
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Scientific/Technical Staff
Institution Classification/Type: 
Space Telescope Science Institute
Department Name: 
Flight Systems Engineering Branch
Street Line 1: 
3700 San Martin Drive
United States of America
Job Announcement Text: 

Do you want to fly the James Webb Space Telescope?

Are you passionate about spaceflight? Can you break down complicated systems into basic electrical, mechanical, thermal, and software interactions? If you are a collaborative engineer excited to strengthen operations of NASA’s next flagship mission, then you want to join our team of 40 engineers preparing to fly the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

The STScI Flight Operations Team is working in partnership with NASA Goddard, observatory contractor Northrop Grumman, and system vendors across the globe to create a premier JWST mission operations team. The team conducts real time operations, sustaining engineering, and operational product development/testing. As a flight systems engineer, you will oversee all aspects of operations for systems under your supervision. You will lead the response during anomalies, and work with other experts to assess problems and advance solutions.

The current opening is for a spacecraft Command & Data Handling (CDH) Engineer. The CDH engineer oversees the spacecraft's nervous system ensuring accurate command routing and data transmission throughout spacecraft systems including computers, 1553 buses, solid-state recorders, transponder interface electronics, payload interfaces; and maintaining the spacecraft clock.


The Space Telescope Science Institute is at the forefront of space borne scientific exploration through its operation of NASA’s flagship class missions including Hubble (in-flight), James Webb (nearing flight), and WFIRST (in-development) space telescopes.

STScI is located on the Johns Hopkins University campus in Baltimore, Maryland. An easy commute from the rolling hills of Maryland horse country, the campus is minutes from the lively downtown cultural center and the Chesapeake Bay.

  • Named one of the best places to work by Baltimore Magazine
  • Outstanding benefits including generous annual PTO: 24 vacation, 3 personal, 12 sick
  • Great work/life balance


  • Apply engineering principles, industry standards, company process, and knowledge of spacecraft computers, buses, recorders, interface electronics, and clocks to perform tasks that advance program goals
  • Oversee the Command & Data Handling (CDH) subsystem
  • Lead CDH anomalous operations response including troubleshooting and advancing solutions
  • Provide engineering expertise to other systems as needed
  • Coordinate with technical and programmatic contacts with NASA and industry partners
  • Document designs, analyses, and test results
  • Develop and test operational products and procedures
  • After mastering CDH, move on to other spacecraft systems with the objective of becoming a JWST Systems Supervisor

Performance standards that a candidate must have to be successful in this position include:

  • Teamwork capabilities within small- to medium-sized groups
  • Interpersonal communication skills - this position requires the ability to collaborate with personnel from engineering, management, and external partners
  • Ability to communicate technical challenges and solutions effectively


  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Bachelor's degree in an engineering or science discipline and 3+ years' experience in related spacecraft systems, OR Master's degree in an engineering or science discipline and 1.5+ years of experience
  • Operations experience on a complex system that has high consequences in the event of failure
  • Software development experience to solve problems, implement process improvements, or automation (e.g. Python, C++, Java, Matlab, etc.)
  • Individuals with experience from other fields who possess related basic qualifications are encouraged to apply


  • Electrical engineering background
  • Familiarity with CCSDS space communication protocol
  • Technical knowledge of spacecraft systems and operations (e.g. attitude control, propulsion, communications, electrical power, thermal control)
  • Previous experience in a customer-facing role working through flight preparations
  • Commitment to continuous improvement and innovation


  • Flexibility including shift work during launch rehearsals and spacecraft commissioning, and on call for anomaly response
  • Limited travel to the observatory contractor site in California


This position is available immediately. All levels of experience will be considered. Applications received by April 4, 2020 will receive full consideration. Applications received after this date will be considered until the position is filled. You are requested to complete an on-line application through the STScI website at

Direct Link:

STScI is one of the centers managed by The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA). AURA is a consortium of 47 US institutions and 3 international affiliates that operates world-class astronomical observatories such as STScI for the National Science Foundation and NASA.

AURA, as a leader in the astronomical community, is committed to diversity and inclusion. AURA develops and supports programs that advance our organizational commitment to diversity, broaden participation, and encourage the advancement of diversity throughout the workforce. Learn more at

As a recipient of U.S. Government funding, AURA is considered a government contractor and is subject to Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action regulations. As an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer, AURA and all of the centers, do not discriminate based on race, sex, color, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity/gender identity expression, lawful political affiliations, veteran status, disability, and/or any other legally protected status under applicable federal, state, and local equal opportunity laws. The statements below as well as the requests for self-identification are required pursuant to these regulations. We encourage your participation in meeting these federal reporting requirements that are included for protection and to assist us in our record keeping and reporting. Your responses are kept strictly confidential.

STScI sees the diversity of our staff as a strategic priority in our desire to create a first-rate community. We reflect that deep commitment in strongly encouraging women, minorities, veterans and disabled individuals to apply for these opportunities.

Veterans, disabled individuals or wounded warriors needing assistance with the employment process can contact us at EOE/AA/M/F/D/V

Included Benefits: 
  • Flexible work schedules
  • Medical, dental, prescription, and vision – Cigna Open Access Plan, employer pays 85%, low co-pays and deductibles
  • Vacation: Up to 5 weeks of accrued paid vacation your first year
  • Sick Leave: Up to 12 accrued sick days your first year, increases after 2 years
  • Paid Holidays: Total of 10 - 7 regular paid holidays and 3 personal paid holidays
  • Employer-sponsored Retirement Plan: direct company contribution of 10% from your first day / per pay cycle
  • Employee Voluntary Retirement Savings Plan  - up to the federal maximum
  • Telecommuting Options Available – 1 day per week
  • Free Parking
  • Flexible Spending Accounts
  • Company-paid Life, Short-term Disability, and Long-term Disability
Application Deadline: 
Monday, April 6, 2020
Selection Deadline: 
Monday, April 6, 2020
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
Apply to Job
Attention To: 
Shelly Abrams
Senior Employment Specialist
Space Telescope Science Institute
Street Line 1: 
3700 San Martin Drive
Zip/Postal Code: 
United States of America
Institution/Company Job ID or Reference Code: 
Inquiries About Job
Attention To: 
Career STScI
Posting #0044188