Ad Astra Rocket Company (AARC) has partnered with NASA under the NextSTEP program to advance their technology to Technology Readiness Level 5 (TRL 5) which requires that the rocket as well as the power generators operate in an environment similar to space, including vacuum as well as a strong magnetic field. In order to meet the NextSTEP requirements, Ad Astra needed a power generator solution engineered with very specific characteristics for space application.
Aethera proposed a clean-sheet design. The design incorporated a new generation of solid-state power transistors, which replaced traditional vacuum tube technology, resulting in more power output in a smaller space with improved energy efficiency. Due in part to the 98% energy efficiency, a very lightweight design was achieved with a mass of just 38kg (84lbs) capable of 120 kW at 1 MHz. This solution also modernized the control system and improved the ability to control power.