NEC Corp and Aerojet-General Corp announced that it has succeeded in operating the same ion engine used for the Hayabusa asteroid explorer in the US.

The test of the engine was conducted April 6, 2011, at Aerojet-General's facilities located in Redmond, Wash. The normal operation of the engine was confirmed by US administration officials, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), US-based satellite manufacturers, etc.

NEC and Aerojet-General have been cooperating in the development and sales of ion engines for satellites since July 2010. The success of the test is expected to strongly promote their sales activities in the US.

NEC manufactured the ion engine of the Hayabusa, commissioned by JAXA. It has twice as long a life as existing ion engines and a high reliability. They were realized by an original technology that uses microwaves for generating ions, also contributing to the Hayabusa's return to the earth.

NEC and Aerojet-General sped up the development of ion engines by using the results of the test, planning to sell them as propulsion units for stationary satellites and deep space explorers in international satellite markets such as the Japanese and US markets.