SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 6, 2011 – Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, and NEC Corporation (NEC; TSE: 6701) announced today that they have successfully operated a Japanese HAYABUSA low power microwave ion engine at Aerojet’s facility in Redmond, Wash. These ion propulsion systems provide propellant efficiencies more than 10 times higher than those of conventional propulsion systems for use on low Earth orbit, geosynchronous and deep space missions.

This test is an important step in support of a teaming agreement between Aerojet and NEC Corporation to jointly supply HAYABUSA-derived ion propulsion systems for the U.S. and Japanese aerospace markets. Representatives from U.S. industry and government, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and NASA gathered to witness the test and to discuss potential future missions. The test demonstrates that the robust design can be operated successfully by Aerojet engineers and technicians.

The HAYABUSA spacecraft successfully retrieved the first-ever samples of an asteroid and returned them to earth on June 13, 2010 after a seven-year journey to the asteroid Itokawa. After a failure of the chemical propulsion and attitude control systems, with ingenuity and persistence, Japanese engineers used the ion propulsion system to complete the mission and return the samples. The ion engines use microwaves to ionize the xenon propellant and innovative carbon fiber grids to accelerate it, enabling long life and high mission reliability.

“We celebrate the successful joint operation of the Japanese ion engine in our facility,” said Bill Smith, executive director of Aerojet Space and Launch Systems Business Development. “We believe that such cooperation between Japan and America expands the future of space industrialization and exploration for both nations."

“Aerojet’s successful operation of Japan’s microwave ion engine demonstrates the effectiveness of our collaboration,” said Kunio Kondo, associate senior vice president, NEC Corporation. “A combination of this rugged design and a professional test crew together made this smooth test run possible. This event will reinforce the alliance between the companies and help to expand ion engine business.”


About Aerojet

Aerojet is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader principally serving the missile and space propulsion, defense and armaments markets. GenCorp is a leading technology-based manufacturer of aerospace and defense products and systems with a real estate segment that includes activities related to the entitlement, sale, and leasing of the company’s excess real estate assets. Additional information about Aerojet and GenCorp can be obtained by visiting the companies’ websites at and


About NEC Corporation

NEC Corporation is a leader in the integration of IT and network technologies that benefit businesses and people around the world. By providing a combination of products and solutions that cross utilize the company’s experience and global resources, NEC’s advanced technologies meet the complex and ever-changing needs of its customers. NEC brings more than 100 years of expertise in technological innovation to empower people, businesses and society. For more information, visit NEC at