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18th December 2013 / Wendy Jane Preston

Hi-rel Gecko connectors from Harwin to feature in international network of satellites

Harwin's Gecko range selected for QB50 programme of satellites

1.25mm connector range selected for mission by Surrey Space Centre

Harwin, the leading hi-rel connector and SMT board hardware manufacturer, has announced that its Gecko family of high performance connectors will be used on CubeSat miniature satellites being designed by Surrey Space Centre as part of the international QB50 programme led by the von Karman Institute, Belgium.

The QB50 program will study in situ the temporal and spatial variations of a number of parameters in the lower thermosphere using a network of around 40 double CubeSats Carrying identical sensors. QB50 will also study the re-entry process by measuring and comparing actual trajectories and orbital lifetimes during re-entry against predicted data. A third part of the programme will see about 10 double or triple CubeSats used for In-Orbit Demonstration (IOD) of technologies including miniature sensors and the Gossamer-1 solar sail.

Because of the high cost of creating a network of launching such am ambitious network of sensors, CubeSats – miniature satellites that measure just 10x10x20cm and weigh only 2kg – are the only realistic option. However, this challenges electronic components such as connectors to be miniature and lightweight, yet be very reliable and offer excellent performance even when extreme conditions of shock, vibration and temperature are to be experienced.

Harwin’s low profile Gecko connectors are designed to offer high performance in a miniature package. The 1.25mm pin spacing results in a 35% space saving over other high-performance connectors such as Micro-D. The connectors are rated to handle 2A per contact. Tested and proven to allow high performance in extreme conditions, devices operate within a wide temperature range (-65 to +150degC) and under extreme vibration (Z axis 100g 6m/s²). This high performance is made possible by Harwin’s four-finger patented Copper Alloy contact.

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