Hi-rel Gecko connectors to feature in QB50 network of miniature CubeSat satellites

Harwin has announced that its Gecko family of high performance connectors will be used on CubeSat miniature satellites which are being designed by Surrey Space Centre as part of the international QB50 programme led by the von Karman Institute in Belgium.

The QB50 program will study in situ the temporal and spatial variations in the earth’s 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 an ambitious network of sensors, CubeSats – miniature satellites that measure just 10x10x20cm and weigh only 2kg – are the only realistic option. This, however, challenges electronic components such as connectors to be miniature and lightweight, yet at the same time be very reliable and able to perform even when extreme conditions of shock, vibration and temperature are to be experienced.

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 and 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/s). This high performance is made possible by Harwin”s four-finger patented Copper Alloy contact.


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