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22 Mar, 2018 13:30

Fancy gold and platinum from old ICBMs? Russian space agency opens bidding

Fancy gold and platinum from old ICBMs? Russian space agency opens bidding

The Russian space agency is looking for somebody to extract precious metals from decommissioned ICBMs stored at its facility. Each missile can net almost 200g of gold, 4.5kg of silver, and a few grams of platinum.

A commercial bidding website owned by the Russian government has revealed the insight into what happens the country’s nuclear-weapons carriers when they are no longer in use. The offer published by Roscosmos last month was first reported by RIA Novosti in March. In it, the space agency offers about $170,000 to whoever is willing to scrap a batch of nine decommissioned RS-12M missiles, better known as Topol ICBMs.

The model first entered service in 1988 and has since being replaced by the more advanced Topol M (RS-12M2) version. The nine delivery missiles that need scrapping are stored at a decommissioning facility in the town of Votkinsk in the Udmurt Republic in Russia’s Urals. They were delivered there sometime in 2015, according to public data, after their warheads and classified components were removed by the military.

Each set of decommissioned missile components includes a transport container, three stages of the missile complete with inert engines, nozzle assemblies, and compartments for guidance and control equipment, as well as pyrotechnics used for cold launch and plenty of cables, according to the tender documents.
Roscosmos hopes that each missile will net them 198g of gold, 4,670g of silver, 5g of platinum, 12g of other platinum-group metals, 1.8 tons of ferrous metals, and 1.5 tons of non-ferrous metals.

Russian contractors can expect plenty of such contracts in years to come. The Russian Strategic Missile Troops will soon be decommissioning hundreds of outdated silo-based ICBMs of the R-36M family, dubbed ‘Satan’ by NATO, as they are being replaced with RS-28 Sarmat missiles, which is in the late stages of development, according to Russia’s Ministry of Defense.