[ExI] De-Orbiting Gold

spike spike66 at att.net
Sun May 20 04:21:25 UTC 2012

>... On Behalf Of Kelly Anderson

Snipped a bunch of stuff that was right.

>...So today a pound of gold is $23,217.59... or $51,078.70 per kilo...


>...A price I've often heard is that it costs $10,000 per pound to get
something up into LEO...

If you take a lot of stuff, ja.  Higher per pound for smaller payloads.

>... The price to bring something DOWN must be less than that!...

No.  Not necessarily.  Once you get the re-entry system on orbit at 10k per
pound, which is actually low probably, then you still need some delta V to
get into a deorbit configuration, you need a reentry shield, you need a dang
good control system, you need some kind of recovery scheme.  All that stuff
has mass and has risk of failure.

>...So this is pure silliness on the part of whoever is dishing this

Hmmm.  Consider the space shuttle.  The theoretical landing mass is about
12000 kg, so your gold is worth 600 million bucks.  But wait, there's more.
You need some way of stabilizing the gold for the reentry process, and that
might weigh nearly as much as the gold once you figure out how to hold the
CG right where it needs to go.  Recall that when reentering with the shuttle
with maximum mass, the CG tolerance is very tight, within about 3 cm in the
fore/aft direction and about 8 cm port/starboard, and I don't recall what it
is in the Z axis, but the point is you can't put your gold in leather sacks
and toss it in the trunk.  If it gets out of tolerance, the control system
will not be able to keep you flying pointy end first.

So I would estimate by the time you get a structure to hold that gold where
it needs to be for a high-G reentry event, you might get back with 300
Megabucks, which wouldn't pay for a shuttle mission.  Then recall two other
factors: there are no other reentry systems designed for returning much of
anything from orbit.  That one time when we returned LDEF from orbit in
1990, which was almost 12000 kg, that was perhaps the scariest thing we ever
did with the shuttle.  Afterwards, NASA said never, never again, will we
carry a payload that size which needs to be reentered, never.  Too scary.
Once could scarcely hear the radio communication over the sound of buttholes
slamming shut.  

Kelly I agree with those would say if you had a bunch of gold in LEO it
wouldn't be worth the cost of retrieving it.

 >...Aside from that, I would pay to own gold in LEO... seems pretty
secure... better than a bank vault. :-)  -Kelly

Ja!  There are things we could do with gold in orbit.  It wouldn't be the
best material to have out there, but not the worst either.  It is soft, but
also very malleable and ductile, and makes good reflective surfaces.  Silver
is better, but gold is passable.

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