Case Study: Innovative generator units power the next generation of electric rocket propulsion.
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.