[ExI] De-Orbiting Gold

Adrian Tymes atymes at gmail.com
Sun May 20 18:18:44 UTC 2012

On Sun, May 20, 2012 at 9:19 AM, Mike Dougherty <msd001 at gmail.com> wrote:
> I kept thinking through this thread, "why bring anything DOWN to
> earth?"

Because, at this time, no one will buy raw materials in orbit - at
least, not for any price that someone capable of delivering it would

Without that, the value is zero, by definition.

> It's so difficult to get things out of earth gravity well,

Irrelevant.  No customers = no value.

> If you
> gather a bunch of rocks and put them in place for space elevator
> counterweights they'd have more value than as coins and jewelry over
> the counter.

Nope.  No customers = no value.  Coins and jewelry can be sold;
space elevator counterweights can not.

>  If you extract the gold from those rocks you can make
> wires with it for all the other stuff you want to build in-place
> without having to pay to lift it off the ground.

Irrelevant, until there is actually a way to make said wires.

Which gets to the heart of the problem: lack of fabrication capability
in space.  Once someone launches the equivalent of a machine
shop, or some other way to make use of raw materials in orbit (such
as there actually being a space elevator, or one under construction),
then and only then might raw materials in orbit gain value.

> Remember that thread about how we'd bootstrap modern technology if we
> found ourselves fallen through time 200+ years?  It's the same
> scenario to be pioneers in space.  You know what you know now and
> you're equipped only with what you managed to carry into orbit.  Now
> how to build all the comforts from scratch?

Start with a detailed plan - hundreds, at least, of relevant line items in the
budget - for how you're going to do that.  Once you have the plan,
acquire resources, the most critical of which will be funding: you'll need
millions, possibly billions, of dollars - and if you're the only one likely to
benefit, you'll need to provide all this yourself.

Or, of course, you could plan to deorbit some of that gold, for the benefit
of others who have no desire to join you or work extensively with you (as
in, most of the people with money).  If the resources of space really are
all that vast, what's the problem with "wasting" the first bits of it you
recover, until you can get mostly self-sufficient?  Waste is only a problem
for sufficiently limited resources, and the amount of gold in space is
nowhere near as precious and rationed as the amount of money in your
bank account right now.

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