Sunday, July 14, 2024

Pioneering Space Expeditions With High Reliability Gecko Connectors

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  • Harwin’s Gecko connectors and Momentus’ recent deployment mark an advancement in nanosatellite technology in a remarkable display of space innovation.
  • Fusing reliability, efficiency, and advanced technology with connectors optimises Earth observation experiments and redefines space exploration’s future landscape.

Harwin has revealed that their dependable Gecko connectors, a vital element of the G125 series, have reached a notable milestone. Integrated into a research nanosatellite, these connectors were successfully launched and positioned in low Earth orbit (LEO). They maintained full functionality after a smooth subsystem deployment, showcasing their reliability and efficacy in the space industry. They provide a compact, dual-row interconnect solution, perfect for stacking and cable connections in areas with premium PCB space.

U.S. firm Momentus successfully initiated the deployment of all customer payloads using its Vigoride-6 Orbital Service vehicle during the SpaceX Transporter-7 mission. This included Hungary’s C3S-developed VIREO CubeSat. The month-long deployment, centred on imaging objectives, utilised a camera-fitted payload integrated with the AIOB-X core. Engineers preferred Gecko 1.25mm pitch connectors to Micro-D options for optimal orbit determination, facilitating advanced Earth observation experiments with the support of onboard AI technology. Key features include:

  • Encased in glass-filled thermoplastic, provides a lighter yet equally insulated alternative to comparable Micro-D connectors.
  • Given CubeSats’ typical weight of under 1.33 kg (3 lbs) per unit, engineers prioritised the weight-saving aspect of these connectors.
  • Housings can endure temperature variations from -65°C to +150°C, a critical attribute for the satellite experiencing alternating sun and Earth shadow exposures during its orbit.
  • Help preserve the payload’s optical cleanliness.
  • Feature a 4-finger design in the beryllium copper contacts, ensuring substantial resistance to shock and vibration during launch.

The connectors forge a secure connection within the HEDVIG (high-reliability embedded device for visual imaging goals). This facilitates an efficient link with similar connectors with higher current ratings, which is vital for bridging the payload and its controller. The cameras snap images of Earth while the onboard AIOB-X core runs AI algorithms to demonstrate the onboard photo pre-selection technology. This system filters out cloud-obscured images, only retaining those offering valuable Earth surface details, optimising bandwidth in the company’s satellite-to-ground communications and conserving essential resources.

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“Harwin’s Gecko family is an ideal new space solution for nanosatellite systems, bringing large-satellite reliability into the nanosatellite world at an affordable cost. They can carry a substantial current at 1.25mm pitch, have very low outgassing parameters (which can be crucial when dealing with optics, for example), and one can choose between a wide variety of fixing and shielding options, as well as cable assemblies” says László Bagó, aerospace hardware & system engineer of C3S.

Akanksha Gaur
Akanksha Gaur
Akanksha Sondhi Gaur is a journalist at EFY. She has a German patent and brings a robust blend of 7 years of industrial & academic prowess to the table. Passionate about electronics, she has penned numerous research papers showcasing her expertise and keen insight.

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