September 4, 2019
by Rob Nudds
Japanese powerhouse Citizen has joined forces with Tokyo-based lunar exploration company ispace. As the new corporate partner of Hakuto-R, the world’s first commercial lunar exploration program, the famous watchmaker will provide its Super Titanium™ to the upcoming missions aiming to make space travel far more common than it is today.
Super Titanium™ is produced using Citizen’s proprietary surface-hardening technology. This type of pure titanium will be used in the new HAKUTO-R lunar lander and rover. Ispace’s engineers identified the material’s properties as an ideal match for their designs. As established industry leaders in research and innovation, Citizen was happy to answer the call.
Takeshi Hakamada, Founder & CEO, ispace says, “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.”
This special titanium is produced by Citizen in-house using its proprietary technology known as “Duratect.” Duratect employs several treatment techniques, such as ion plating, cold plasma, gas hardening, and duplex coating. Amazingly, these treatments result in a type of titanium that is six times harder than stainless steel. Despite its increased strength, it remains as lightweight as ever.
Being part of the HAKUTO-R mission could end up etching Citizen’s name into the history books of worlds other than our own, should the mission meet with success. As the world’s first commercial lunar venture, HAKUTO-R intends to run two trips to the surface of the moon. The first is scheduled to be completed in 2021 and is, effectively, a trial run (or “soft landing”) for the second.
Slated for 2023, the second lunar landing will see the deployment of a lunar rover for surface exploration. The ultimate goal of the project is to lay the groundwork for the construction of a high-frequency, low-cost lunar transportation platform. Both missions will be made possible by the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which will carry the ispace lander to the moon in 2021 and again in 2023. Learn more about Citizen at citizenwatch.com.