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Curtiss-Wright Congratulates Rocket Lab on Reaching Orbit During Successful Test Launch of the Electron Launch Vehicle

March 01, 2018 | BY: John Wranovics

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

ASHBURN, VA. – March 1, 2018 -- Curtiss-Wright’s Defense Solutions division today congratulated Rocket Lab on successfully delivering its satellite payloads to orbit during the recent second test flight of its Electron orbital launch vehicle. During the test flight, on January 21, 2018, Rocket Lab’s expendable launch vehicle reached orbit and deployed customer payloads at 8 minutes and 31 seconds after lift-off. This successful flight marks the latest milestone in the development of cost-effective space flight. Rocket Lab is the first commercial company to offer a low-cost, high rate launcher specifically designed to support the needs of the nano-sat and small satellite market. The Electron vehicle’s historic flight originated from Rocket Lab’s private orbital launch site, Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1, on New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula, the first orbital range to be built and operated by a commercial company.

“Curtiss-Wright is very pleased to congratulate Rocket Lab on the successful deployment of its satellite payloads to low Earth orbit during the second test flight of the Electron space vehicle that was instrumented with our industry leading space qualified data acquisition technology,” said Lynn Bamford, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Defense Solutions division. “We are proud to support Rocket Lab as it pioneers the use of  COTS-based space avionics on small launchers to lower the cost of access to Low Earth Orbit space flight. We look forward to supporting Rocket Lab during the test flight program for their Electron rocket  later this year and into the future as their operational flights commence.”

Rocket Lab currently has five Electron vehicles in production, with the next launch expected to take place in early 2018.  At full production, Rocket Lab expects to launch more than 50 times a year, and is regulated to launch up to 120 times a year, more than any other commercial or government launch provider in history. Rocket Lab’s commercial phase will see Electron fly already-signed customers including NASA, Spire, Planet, Moon Express and Spaceflight.

Curtiss-Wright and the Electron Launcher

The two-stage Electron launch vehicle employs three Curtiss-Wright Acra KAM-500 modular Data Acquisition Units (DAU) 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 rugged DAUs serve as Electron’s flight test instrumentation (FTI) system. Based on Curtiss-Wright’s innovative Space COTS (Commercial-Off-The-Shelf) technology, the three 13-slot units, located on the upper and lower stages of the launcher, are 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.

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.

For more information about Curtiss-Wright’s Defense Solutions division, please visit www.curtisswrightds.com.

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 8,600 people worldwide. For more information, visit www.curtisswright.com.

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Author’s Biography

John Wranovics

Director of Public Relations

John Wranovics has over thirty years experience in the management of media relations and the promotion of high technology products. He has been with Curtiss-Wright since 2003. He has a degree in English Literature from the University of California, Berkeley.

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