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After democratising watches, Citizen sets its sights on the moon

SPACE

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August 2019


After democratising watches, Citizen sets its sights on the moon

The world’s first commercial lunar exploration program, HAKUTO-R, will be equipped with Citizen’s Super Titanium™ on components used in the lunar lander and rover. Fifty years after the first Moon landing, the battle for Earth’s satellite is definitely not over (in the watch world)!

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AKUTO-R is the world’s first commercial lunar exploration program. It includes Japanese company ispace’s first two lunar missions: Mission 1, a soft lunar landing in 2021, and Mission 2, a lunar landing and deployment of a rover for lunar surface exploration in 2023. For both missions, ispace’s lander will be a secondary payload on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. The program is intended to lay the groundwork for a high-frequency, low-cost lunar transportation platform.

As a key component of this partnership, Citizen will apply its Super Titanium™ material -pure titanium processed using Citizen’s proprietary surface-hardening technology - to titanium components used in the HAKUTO-R lunar lander and lunar rover.

The program is intended to lay the groundwork for a high-frequency, low-cost lunar transportation platform.

Selected by ispace’s engineers for its light weight and strength, titanium will be used for various mechanical parts in the HAKUTO-R lander and rover. As a lightweight, scratch- and corrosion-resistant material developed by Citizen for its watches, Citizen and ispace aim to use Super Titanium™ to improve the reliability and environmental resistance of the HAKUTO-R spacecraft’s titanium parts.

Super Titanium™ is developed using Citizen’s proprietary technology, called “Duratect”, which uses special treatment techniques - including ion plating, cold plasma, gas hardening and duplex coating - to produce a titanium material that is 6x harder than stainless steel with excellent durability and abrasion-resistance, while maintaining the lightness of titanium.

Selected by ispace’s engineers for its light weight and strength, titanium will be used for various mechanical parts in the HAKUTO-R lander and rover.

Through this partnership, Citizen will be procuring the pure titanium material, process it using the Duratect treatment technology, and apply it to the relevant HAKUTO-R lander and rover parts. Following Citizen’s release of the world’s first watch made of pure titanium in 1970, Citizen set out to bring out titanium’s best qualities. It was after many years of R&D when Citizen developed its proprietary Duratect technology. Now, through its partnership with HAKUTO-R, Citizen will utilize its manufacturing technology - only ever intended for use on Earth - for the use of lunar exploration.

ispace's CEO Takeshi Hakamada and COO Takahiro Nakamura presenting their program to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
ispace’s CEO Takeshi Hakamada and COO Takahiro Nakamura presenting their program to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Following the HAKUTO-R missions, ispace and Citizen will examine the results of the Super Titanium™ application on HAKUTO-R’s lunar lander and rover and proceed to develop it as a common application used in lunar exploration.

Takeshi Hakamada, Founder & CEO of ispace, comments: “The application of Citizen’s titanium watch technology to HAKUTO-R’s lunar lander and rover provides a clear example of how industrial techniques used on Earth can provide viable solutions to spacecraft engineering. We will continue to actively work with our partner companies to challenge the conventional way of thinking about space development.”