Curtiss-Wright Congratulates Rocket Lab on the First Launch of the Electron Launch Vehicle

Curtiss-Wright Congratulates Rocket Lab on the First Launch of the Electron Launch Vehicle

First flight of new expendable electron launcher uses Curtiss-Wright’s Space COTS data acquisition system to capture test data

ASHBURN, VA. – June 20, 2017 -- Curtiss-Wright’s Defense Solutions division today congratulated Rocket Lab on the historic first launch of its Electron launch vehicle. The inaugural test flight of Rocket Lab’s expendable launch vehicle, which took place on May 25, 2017, marks a milestone in the development of cost-effective space flight and establishes Rocket Lab as the first commercial company to offer a high rate launcher specifically designed to support the needs of the nano-sat and small satellite market. The Electron’s historic flight originated from Rocket Lab’s new private orbital launch site on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula, the first orbital range to be built and operated by a commercial company.

Curtiss-Wright and the Electron Launcher

The two-stage Electron launch vehicle employs Curtiss-Wright’s rugged, modular Data Acquisition Unit (DAU) technology to acquire flight test data from its onboard analog and digital sensors. The telemetry data acquired from the test flight, which was down-linked via a radio channel to a series of tracking stations, will be analyzed and used to modify and improve the performance of the launcher for subsequent flights. The Electron’s flight test instrumentation (FTI) system is based on Curtiss-Wright’s innovative Space COTS (Commercial-Off-The-Shelf)  Acra KAM-500 DAU products, and consists of three 13-slot units, located on the upper and lower stages of the launcher. Each KAM-500 DAU is integrated with a variety of COTS-based vibration, temperature, acceleration, digital, and processing modules. A subset of the acquisition system will also be used on future operational launches. Following analysis of the data from the first test flight, Rocket Lab expects further test flights later in the year.

“Curtiss-Wright is very proud to support the first launch of Rocket Lab’s Electron space vehicle with our industry-leading space qualified data acquisition technology,” said Lynn Bamford, Senior Vice President, and General Manager, Defense Solutions division. “It is very exciting for us to contribute to Rocket Lab’s historic efforts, providing COTS-based space avionics for the development, flight test, and operational phases of their pioneering efforts to lower the cost of access to Low Earth Orbit space flight. We look forward to supporting Rocket Lab during their sequence of future test flights later this year and into the future as their operational flights commence.”

About the Space COTS Acra KAM-500

The Space COTS Acra KAM-500 is a rugged, modular data acquisition solution that is made affordable by leveraging an extensive library of IP, built over decades of design for the space and flight test instrumentation markets. The Space COTS Acra KAM-500 rugged chassis features a standard backplane that accepts over 100+ user-selectable modules. This highly configurable system enables fully customized systems to be built using affordable COTS products.

An Industry Leader in Bringing COTS to Space Applications

Curtiss-Wright is a leader in bringing the benefits of COTS products to the space industry. Choosing to deploy Space COTS electronics can significantly reduce cost, development time, and risk through the use of an extensive library of intellectual property and decades of rugged system design experience. Curtiss-Wright has experience on a wide range of missions and with leading space organizations and companies around the world, including Boeing, SpaceX, NASA, ESA, Scaled Composites, ULA, Airbus DS, Thales Alenia Space, and Sierra Nevada. Based on open architecture modular COTS hardware, Curtiss-Wright’s Acra KAM-500 has a long heritage in space applications including experimental aircraft, launchers, re-entry vehicles, and orbital platforms.


About Curtiss-Wright Corporation

Curtiss-Wright Corporation is a global innovative company that delivers highly engineered, critical function products and services to the commercial, industrial, defense and energy markets. Building on the heritage of Glenn Curtiss and the Wright brothers, Curtiss-Wright has a long tradition of providing reliable solutions through trusted customer relationships. The company employs approximately 8,000 people worldwide. For more information, visit


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