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From food products to space: the AetheraTM story

In , the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) awarded a contribution worth $1.5 million to a small Halifax-based company called AetheraTM Technologies. This Announcement of Opportunity (AO) was the first to include a dedicated section for small businesses, a strategic decision to help diversify Canada's space sector and help small firms scale up to space readiness.

AetheraTM is a radiofrequency (RF) engineering company, whose products include solid-state RF generators that are used in a number of fields including food and mass timber. The AetheraTM team saw the AO as an opportunity to branch out their technology for space. They successfully proposed a project to adapt it to operate in the vacuum of space and to be integrated into Ad Astra Rocket Company's Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR®) for advanced in-space electric propulsion.

The CSA's Space Technology Development Program team supported AetheraTM throughout the contribution and advocated for the CSA to give them additional time to complete their project during the pandemic. This eventually paid off: their technology was tested successfully per the mandate received by NASA and will now be on Ad Astra's rockets to become a possible candidate for NASA's NextSTEP program.

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