It turns out that space-flown gold isn’t all that more expensive than regular earth grounded gold bars or gold coins, at least when buying from the government.
On Thursday, Jan 22, a General Services Administration (GSA) auction of six NASA space-flown gold plates weighing 6,015.5 grams realized $265,607.
"These plates were reportedly flown in space for 69 months," describes the GSA auction listing.
The listing does not give details about why they were in space. collectSPACE theorizes that the plates flew on NASA’s Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF).
Each has a purity of 24-karat gold with all six totaling 193.4 troy ounces. Using that and the winning bid amount of $265,607, the price of the gold plates per ounce calculates to $1,373.34. That’s just 6% above their melt value based on the London PM Fix for gold when the auction ended on the Jan. 22.
The premium is right in the ballpark with the United States Mint’s most popular gold bullion products, the standard 22-karat American Gold Eagles. The U.S. Mint sells them to its authorized distributors at prices above spot of 3% for the 1-ounce coins, 5% on the half-ounce coins, 7% on the quarter-ounce coins and 9% on the tenth-ounce coins. Plus, the premiums tend to go up at least another point or two by the time the gold coins reach the level where consumers can buy them.
Obviously, space-flown gold is much harder to get your hands on than bullion American Gold Eagles. Or, for that matter, far rarer than even the collector proof American Gold Eagles with the West Point’s "W" mint mark. Today, those proofs are difficult to get for less than 25% above their melt value.
It looks like the winner of the auction got the gold at a bargain, and could turn a very tidy profit by selling them as collectibles to space enthusiasts.