Systima joins a new team to target aerospace markets

Mukilteo, Wash.-based Systima Technologies has been acquired by Karman Missile & Space Systems as part of Karman’s push into the markets for space and hypersonic system infrastructure.

Karman, headquartered in Los Angeles, was created just in the past year with backing from Trive Capital, a Dallas-based private equity firm. In addition to Systima, Karman’s business divisions include AMRO, AAE Aerospace, Aerospace Engineering Corp. and TMX Engineering.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Systima currently has about 230 employees — and last year it purchased the Harbour Pointe Tech Center in Mukilteo to serve as its headquarters, reportedly at a price of $46.75 million. In the wake of the acquisition, Systima’s leadership team will continue as equity holders and senior leaders of Karman.

The 21-year-old venture, founded by President Tom Prenzlow, specializes in integrating energetic and mechanical systems into the structural design of mission-critical space and hypersonic systems. One of its fastest-growing product lines is the fabrication of high-performance composite structures that use high-temperature materials for missile and launch platforms

Systima’s projects include the development of pyrotechnically actuated hatch mechanisms for NASA’s Orion deep-space crew capsule, fabrication of a ring-shaped separation joint system for NASA’s heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket, and work on hypersonic flight and missile systems for the Defense Department.


Systima expands to meet hypersonic demand

Hypersonic test
Systima Technologies was a subcontractor on the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation Program, or HIFiRE, in 2012. (AFRL Photo)

Kirkland, Wash.-based Systima Technologies is taking on more employees and real estate to work on Defense Department contracts related to hypersonic and long-range weapon systems.

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Systima wins contract for Orion space hardware

Orion egress test
Astronauts rehearse crew egress procedures using an Orion test model in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Texas in July 2017. (NASA Photo)

Systima Technologies says it’s been awarded a contract from Lockheed Martin Space Systems to provide pyrotechnically actuated hatch mechanisms for NASA’s Orion deep-space crew capsule.

The mechanisms will be part of a side hatch latch release system that would come into play in the event of an emergency landing condition after splashdown, the Kirkland, Wash.-based company said in a news release.

The Orion is currently in the midst of development, leading up to Exploration Mission-1, an uncrewed test flight beyond the moon and back that’s planned for the 2020 time frame. That would be followed by the first crewed flight, known as Exploration Mission-2, currently scheduled for as early as 2022. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for the multibillion-dollar Orion development program.

The mechanism that Systima is working on would be used on the EM-2 flight.

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Systima’s pyrovalves debut on spy satellite launch

NROL-52 launch
United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 rocket lofts a payload into space for the NROL-52 mission. (ULA Photo)

After more than a week of delays, the National Reconnaissance Office was glad to see its latest spy satellite go into orbit on Oct. 15 — and so was Kirkland, Wash.-based Systima Technologies.

When a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket launched the NROL-52 satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, Systima’s pyrotechnic valves played a mission-critical role as part of the reaction control system on the rocket’s Centaur upper stage.

“This marks the first flight of Systima’s pyrovalves, RCS hardware, as well as the first time Systima has supported an Atlas 5 launch,” Taylor Banks, Systima’s controller and contracts manager, told GeekWire in an email. “Systima is thrilled to be part of the ULA team and would like to congratulate all that supported the successful mission.”

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Systima gets a piece of the action for SLS

Space Launch System
An artist’s conception shows NASA’s Space Launch System in flight. (NASA Illustration)

When NASA’s heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket starts carrying astronauts beyond Earth orbit in the 2020s, it’ll also be carrying a key component built by Kirkland, Wash.-based Systima Technologies.

Systima will be responsible for providing a 27.6-foot-wide, ring-shaped joint assembly that separates the rocket’s universal stage adapter from its upper stage. The assembly will allow for the deployment of cargo and secondary payloads from the SLS once it rises into orbit.

Systima won the contract for the separation joint system this month from Dynetics, an Alabama-based company that’s the prime contractor for the universal stage adapter. The value of Systima’s contract is undisclosed, but it’s part of NASA’s $221.7 million contract with Dynetics.

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