Compact 1.25mm Pitch Connectors from Harwin Get CubeSat Launch

06 September 2023

Harwin’s lightweight, 1.25mm pitch, high-reliability Gecko interconnect components have been employed within the virtual intelligence realisation for Earth observatory (VIREO) CubeSat.

Designed and manufactured by Hungarian firm C3S, this nanosatellite will be used for Earth observation imaging activities. It has now been launched (via a SpaceX rocket) and placed into a low Earth orbit (LEO).

The Gecko connectors are being used for interfacing between the cameras of the high-reliability embedded device for visual imaging goals (HEDVIG), the integrated payload controller and the on-board AIOB-X processing core. Running specifically developed AI algorithms, the AIOB-X core can carry out pre-selection of captured images, so only ones that have acceptable integrity levels are sent back to Earth (thereby keeping the bandwidth requirements down).

The team at C3S chose Gecko connectors for this project, as they offered higher current ratings than Micro-D connectors while having similar form factors and being less heavy too. These robust components can handle temperatures from -65°C to +150°C, as well as being resilient to shocks and vibrations (thanks to the 4-finger arrangement of their beryllium copper contacts). In addition, they exhibit superior outgassing properties. 

“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,” László Bagó, Aerospace Hardware & System Engineer at C3S. comments. “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.”

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