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Job Details

Trajectory Operations and Planning Officer Flight Controller ( R-00085578 )


Security Operations



Houston, Texas, United States


Job Description:

The candidate will be assigned to support the Trajectory Operations and Planning Officer (TOPO, pronounced “toe-poe”) group within the Flight Dynamics Division of the Flight Operations Directorate at the NASA - Johnson Space Center. The TOPO processes International Space Station (ISS) orbit determination data (state vectors) from multiple sources daily for the ISS, Visiting Vehicles, Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS), and orbital debris. The TOPO console coordinates and monitors the execution of all ISS translation maneuvers, performing debris avoidance maneuver planning as required. In the office environment, they generate the data used to predict the location of the ISS for long term planning and short term execution, including altitude strategy. TOPO operations support includes the development and maintenance of operations products such as flight rules, console procedures, and technical references.

The TOPO employee will be required to support or lead certain technical analyses relating to trajectory operations, as appropriate. Once certified as a TOPO, the candidate will be expected to participate in the training of other TOPO candidates. The TOPO employee would also be responsible for coordinating with the ISS Program, International Partners, and commercial vendors on new vehicle design and operations.

The employee’s primary job responsibility will be to attain certification as a TOPO and support missions and training simulations from the TOPO console. During missions and training simulations, the employee must be able to support a flexible work week (shift work) as early morning, late evening, weekend, and holiday work may be required to support real-time mission support schedules. This position provides 24/7/365 on-call support with 24/7 support during dynamic events (ISS extravehicular activity (EVA), ISS translation maneuvers (ISS re-boosts/de-boosts), debris avoidance evaluation and maneuvers, visiting vehicle dock/undock, CubeSat deployments).
As part of the flight controller certification process, the employee must be able to pass a standard flight physical conducted onsite by a NASA Flight Surgeon. When deemed necessary by the NASA Flight Surgeon, the employee may be asked to seek a specialized medical evaluation, via the employee’s medical healthcare network, before concluding the flight physical process. For pre-existing or newly identified medical conditions, the employee may be asked to provide proof of a medical treatment plan to the NASA Flight Surgeon as part of the flight physical process. Note, some medical conditions may be required to be evaluated by the NASA Medical Advisory Board as part of the flight physical process.

Due to the potential to be privileged with sensitive data, the employee will also be required to undergo a Tier 3 background investigation and be favorably adjudicated with a security clearance.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Training for and/or maintaining flight controller certification through individual study, proficiency examination, and/or generic/mission-specific simulated environment.
  • Supporting the training of other TOPO trainees.
  • Developing training lessons and presentations.
  • Interfacing with NASA customer daily, as well as many other technical and engineering organizations.
  • Representing the TOPO at different NASA panels, boards, and working groups.
  • Supporting a multitude of meetings and concisely reporting notable and actionable results to management. Note, in some cases facilitating one or more meetings and taking minutes or summarizing the meeting.
  • Writing and reviewing flight rules, operational interface procedures, console procedure, cue cards, system briefs, and other needed operational documentation.
  • Creating and quality assuring relatable mission data products for internal and external customers
  • Developing software requirements for and testing console situational awareness tools, data production tools, and/or analysis tools.
  • Performing analysis, trade studies, running trajectory simulations and interpreting performance data. Note this may include modifying Python or Freeflyer scripts and running them in a Linux environment
  • Making oral presentations.

Basic Qualifications

  • A Bachelor of Science in Engineering (ABET), Math, or Physics.
  • This is an entry-level position for candidates having 0-4 years of relatable experience.
  • The ideal candidate is an Aerospace Engineer with a sound understanding of (and passion for) orbital/celestial mechanics and spacecraft flight dynamics.
  • Education or experience with basic engineering, orbital/celestial mechanics, and spacecraft flight dynamics, real-time spacecraft trajectory system design, analysis, and/or operations is highly desired.
  • Education or experience with Linux shell scripting, Python, or commercial off-the-shelf tools, such as Matlab, and/or FreeFlyer, is also highly desired.
  • Knowledge of engineering principles and the ability to apply them to real-time operations is essential. The candidate must be able to make quick effective judgement especially under pressure, the ability to put things in perspective, weigh options, assess relevant information, anticipate any consequence – good or bad; AND have an unfaltering ability to think clearly, and a capacity to compartmentalize and set stress aside.
  • The candidate should possess and demonstrate excellent soft skills (intangible and non-technical abilities) in communication, self-motivation, teamwork, problem-solving, leadership, time management, flexibility, and negotiation/conflict resolution.
  • The candidate must have the demonstrative ability to create, collect, organize, synthesize, and analyze data; summarize findings, develop conclusions and recommendations from appropriate data sources.
  • The candidate must be able to work in a dynamic environment and work effectively both alone and as part of a team.
  • The candidate must be able to build and maintain respectful and inclusive working relationships with individual project team members and customers to foster an environment of cooperation and productivity.
  • The candidate must have a demonstrated ability to plan, lead, and coordinate a wide range of tasks, be organized, and have good administrative skills.
  • The candidate must possess the ability and willingness to attain an ISS TOPO flight control certification. The candidate must pass a standard flight controller physical examination.
  • The candidates must be able to apply for and successfully receive and maintain a security clearance per eligibility requirements.
  • The candidate must be able to travel, as needed (low percentage), to support the occasional technical forum or backup control center (BCC) support.

Pay Range:Pay Range $50,700.00 - $78,000.00 - $105,300.00

The Leidos pay range for this job level is a general guideline only and not a guarantee of compensation or salary. Additional factors considered in extending an offer include (but are not limited to) responsibilities of the job, education, experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities, as well as internal equity, alignment with market data, applicable bargaining agreement (if any), or other law.