[ExI] De-Orbiting Gold

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Sun May 20 10:12:21 UTC 2012

On 20/05/2012 07:15, Kelly Anderson wrote:
> Ok, so maybe I'm not a rocket scientist... but what would happen if
> you had say a one meter diameter ball of solid gold, perhaps covered
> with a three meter thick coating of copper (total 7 meters), and you
> just decelerated it as much as possible and dropped it into the middle
> of the Sahara Dessert.

As Spike pointed out, the big problem is that you still need delta-v to 
change the orbit into an Earth-intersector. LEO orbital velocity is 
around 7.8 km/s, so it is going to be a few km/s. Also, if you don't 
like vaporised gold you need to reduce it to near zero in the end.

Aerobraking can deal with up to 3 km/s, so if you put your gold in a 
wing with some automated control and give it some hefty parachute you 
might be able to shave some km/s off.

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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