Earth Observation Payload RF Engineer


Spire Global is a space-to-cloud analytics company that owns and operates the largest multi-purpose constellation of satellites. Its proprietary data and algorithms provide the most advanced maritime, aviation, and weather tracking in the world. In addition to its constellation, Spire’s data infrastructure includes a global ground station network and 24/7 operations that provide real-time global coverage of every point on Earth.

As Earth Observation Payload RF engineer at Spire, you will be part of a team laser-focused on delivering critical meteorological data powering weather prediction models worldwide, by leveraging GPS / GNSS Earth remote-sensing technology in concert with Spire's constellation of nanosatellites. You will own the RF design of the STRATOS GNSS payload that collects this critical weather data. In this role, you will ensure that this instrument is manufactured following good engineering practices, and that it is tested carefully throughout the manufacturing process. Also, you will ensure that its design is maintained and updated as needed, and that the hardware of the RF front-end and the firmware on the DSP back-end subsystems of the STRATOS GNSS payload performs according to a high-quality standard. You will also collaborate with the team to guarantee that the STRATOS GNSS payload hardware maintains a reliable health during its on-orbit operations and throughout its designed mission lifetime. The STRATOS GNSS payload is installed on every CubeSat of the Spire constellation, which is growing at a rate of 30-50 new satellites a year, which are fully assembled and tested in-house in our Glasgow premises. If you have relevant experience on RF design & development, and/or RADAR or Earth Remote Sensing, and have the drive and motivation to ideate and deploy the processes that will guarantee the stability and performance of a piece of hardware that has a global impact, we’d love to hear from you.

Responsibilities of your role:

  • Own the GNSS Payload RF front-end design (from concept, through schematic and down to PCB).
  • Work closely with the electronics & mechanical design teams to ensure that every new design release of the RF front-end and the DSP back-end of the STRATOS GNSS payload follows good engineering and manufacturability practices.
  • Be intimately familiar with all high- and low-level design details of every new design release of the RF front-end and the DSP back-end of the STRATOS payload.
  • Own the design, maintenance and execution (with help from the manufacturing team) of the stringent hardware acceptance tests to which Spire submits each and every
  • STRATOS payload unit manufactured. For every new batch of satellites manufactured, this involves from board-level tests at the early stages of the payload manufacturing, up to satellite-level tests at the latest stages of satellite assembly and final delivery.
  • Locate the root cause of test failures during the payload manufacturing process (at board-level, or at module level), and deploy the necessary fixes when this is possible.
  • Own the RF qualification process of each new STRATOS payload design release. This involves: designing and documenting the qualification process, running the actual qualification tests, reporting the results in written form and, when tests fail, communicating the issues to the design teams & management.
  • At the times it is required, provide on-demand support to the satellite operations team to help diagnose any eventual on-orbit malfunctions of the STRATOS payload, devise mitigation paths when possible, and help that team to deploy those.
  • As a background recurrent duty: track, monitor & log relevant performance quality & health metrics of every STRATOS payload unit manufactured, as well as any incidents or relevant events occurred upon on-orbit operation, throughout its whole lifetime.
  • Once every quarter, run an analysis of said accumulated historical quality records to leverage its information content. When applicable, said content shall be converted to lists of smart actions (i.e., suggested changes on design, manufacturing or test processes) that shall further improve either the STRATOS payload manufacturability, its hardware quality, and/or its on-orbit operations reliability.

Qualifications / Experience:

  • Bachelor Degree in Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Engineering, Physics or the equivalent.
  • Master in Electrical Engineering with specialization in signal processing, RF and wave propagation, or equivalent expertise acquired through professional practice.
  • Very solid understanding and practical experience of RF & Microwave circuit design (distributed impedance elements, Smith chart) and radio waves propagation.
  • Very solid understanding of radio receiver design techniques and architectures.
  • Very solid understanding of radio communication principles and SNR link budget calculations
  • Solid understanding of antenna working principles and its electrical performance parameters as a system: radiation pattern, gain, directivity, polarization, ohmic & total efficiency, input impedance & return loss.
  • At least 2 years experience in PCB design (schematic & PCB entry), and familiarity with the PCB manufacturing & component assembly processes, applied to RF designs.
  • Intimate familiarity using standard RF & DSP laboratory test equipment: multi-channel power supplies, multi-channel multimeter, oscilloscope, spectrum analyzer, vector network analyzer, vector signal generators.
  • At least 5 years of accumulated hands-on experience designing and debugging radio receivers working at frequencies of 1.5 GHz (L-band) or higher.
  • Hands-on experience dealing with bug location and fixing of active RF electronic boards.
  • Hands-on practice dealing with, and solving, electromagnetic interference (EMI) issues related with RF electronic circuits that are part of a bigger system, such a complex instrument.
  • A solid background and practical hands-on experience on the following basic digital signal processing (DSP) techniques: convolution & Fourier transform, IIR & FIR filters, FFT, sampling theorem.
  • An understanding of working principle and signal structure of GNSS systems (GPS, GLONASS, etc), navigation receivers, and GNSS receivers link budget.
  • At least 1.5 years of accumulated hands-on experience implementing one or more embedded DSP systems, either designing the electronic board yourself or using a COTS development kit. Any combination of pure processor chipsets or FPGA(s) is valid.
  • Some professional coding experience, such as (non exhaustive) C, assembly, C++, Bash, Python, Ruby, MATLAB, Octave, or a combination.
  • Hands-on experience analysing and extracting basic statistical information (mean, median variance, standard deviation, linear regression ) from large amounts of data collected by tests or from on-orbit (data collection and sorting, scripted processing, statistics calculation, data visualization, hypothesis testing).
  • User-level experience with Linux (Unix) systems, close familiarity using shell command lines (either local, or through remote ssh connections)
  • A detail-oriented personality; careful, methodological, and persistent in tracking down problems.
  • Diligent worker, with good documentation / reporting habits
  • Able to communicate effectively, promptly raising issues to the team co-workers or manager when problems or concerns arise.
  • Comfortable & familiar working with on-line documentation on-the-cloud (such as google docs, spreadsheets, etc)

Desirable Qualifications:

  • Familiarity with Earth Remote sensing techniques using GNSS signals, such as: GNSS- reflections (sensing of Earth surface soil moisture, or sea roughness) , GNSS Radio- Occultations (sensing of earth atmosphere), GNSS-altimetry (measuring height of smooth surfaces such as calm waters or sea ice cover with centimeter-level precision)
  • Some experience with remote sensing radars working at L-band (1-2 GHz band)
  • Any experience with antenna design, manufacturing, test and / or assembly.
  • Familiarity with (or awareness of) GNSS signal simulators such as (non-exhaustive):
  • Spirent GSS-xxx family, Skydel SDX, Labsat-3 GNSS recorder & playback.

Spire is Global and our success draws upon the diverse viewpoints, skills and experiences of our employees. We are proud to be an equal opportunity employer and are committed to equal employment opportunity regardless of race, color, ancestry, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, gender identity or veteran status.