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Students connect with space adventure

12 May 2013

Harwin’s high-reliability Datamate and Gecko connector families have completed another successful prototype flight into the stratosphere, this time courtesy of Warwick University's CubeSat project, which was launched by balloon early last month, reaching an altitude of 30km before being safely parachuted back to earth.

Students from the Warwick University satellite (WUSAT) team are to be congratulated following the successful launch and recovery of their WUSAT nano-satellite, which had its maiden flight last month tethered to a weather balloon.

At the start of the current academic year, the team decided that launching a ‘CubeSat’ – a small satellite typically measuring just 10cm cube and with a mass of up to 1.33kg - would be suitable goal, as it opens up many possibilities for payloads and development.

CubeSat's control, power and communications systems are based on the Arduino platform for speed of development, and the data from sensors included on separate PCBs will be stored on SD cards. 

With this level of systems payload, a miniature and lightweight yet very high-reliability interconnect system was deemed necessary, and with this in mind, the WUSAT team decided to evaluate Harwin’s 2mm Datamate signal and power connector family, and the recently-launched 1.25mm Gecko connector range that can handle up to 2A.

Both connector families perform well in harsh environments ensuring signal integrity even under extremes of temperature, vibration and shock that are typically-encountered during satellite launches and missions. Many other CubeSats already use Harwin’s connectors because of their miniature size, light weight and proven performance in orbital conditions.

During the two hour maiden flight the CubeSat travelled into the stratosphere to over 30km above the earth's surface, where the balloon popped and a parachute deployed, carrying the CubeSat safely back to Earth.

The WUSAT team successfully launched a prototype CubeSat using a weather balloon on April 7 2013. You can follow the progress of the project and view the students’ photo gallery here.

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