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How Much Gold Foil Is Used On Satellites? Gold Plating In Aerospace

by | Apr 17, 2023

Gold is considered malleable, practically indestructible, and completely recyclable while also being virtually immune to the effects of water, air, and oxygen. It is a crucial component in many industrial, aerospace, medical, and electrical applications due to its distinctive combination of properties. Gold is one of the most electrically conductive metals and is also an excellent conductor of heat or thermal energy.

Gold plating is helpful for parts that need to remain flexible while also having wear or corrosion resistance. The element is non-reactive and has a high electrical conductivity. Even though it is the priciest electroplating option, it is by far the best way to ensure the worth and quality of your product. 

Furthermore, gold plating is used in a variety of ways on satellites and other spacecraft. Gold plating is used to cover the outside of the spacecraft, as well as the internal components. Gold plating is used to provide thermal insulation, reduce weight, and improve the overall performance of spacecraft. Gold plating is also used to protect against radiation and other forms of space debris. 

In this article, we will discuss how much gold foil is used on satellites and other spacecraft. We will also look at the benefits of gold plating in aerospace and other uses of gold in aerospace. Finally, we will look at gold plating services, gold coatings for temperature control, and FAQs about gold in space.

Do you have a gold plating project? You can request a quote for the gold plating you need or contact us to find out why gold plating is a good fit for your application.


Metal Plating On Satellites

In the metal plating process, a substrate is covered with a thin coating of metal. This method is frequently applied in the aerospace sector to enhance the functionality of satellites and other spacecraft. Satellite parts are shielded from radiation, high temperatures, and other environmental dangers using metal plating. Moreover, it can be utilized to give the components better electrical and thermal conductivity and a more aesthetically acceptable appearance.

The most common metals used in metal plating for satellites are aluminum, copper, and gold. Aluminum is used to provide a protective coating, while copper is used to improve electrical and thermal conductivity. Gold is used due to its high reflectivity and resistance to corrosion. Gold plating is often used on antennas and other components that require a reflective surface. Gold plating is also used to provide a more aesthetically pleasing finish.

Depending on the satellite’s use and the conditions it will encounter, different amounts of metal plating are utilized. For satellites that will be subjected to severe temperatures, radiation, or other environmental risks, a thicker layer of metal plating is typically used. The type of metal being utilized affects the thickness of the metal plating as well. Because gold is far more expensive than aluminum or copper, gold plating is often much thinner than other materials.

Metal plating is a difficult complex that demands a high level of skill and accuracy. In addition to applying the metal to the substrate, the plating procedure combines chemical and electrochemical reactions. To make sure that the metal is coated correctly and that the desired polish is obtained, the plating procedure must be closely watched.

It is important that you patronize only certified and renowned metal finishing companies for this process if you want to achieve a quality finish. 


Gold Plating in Satellite



Is There Gold In Satellites?

Gold is used extensively in the manufacture and maintenance of satellites. Gold can act as a radiation barrier or as an insulating layer to safeguard fragile components, among other things. Gold is one of the most often utilized materials in satellites, albeit it is not the only one.

Due to its small weight, strong electrical conductivity, and corrosion resistance, gold is the perfect material for satellite construction. Gold can be utilized as a conductor for electrical signals and power due to its low electrical resistance, and its high reflection makes it a potent radiation shield. Gold is also quite malleable, making it simple to shape into thin layers and apply to components.

Gold is used in satellites in a variety of forms, including gold foil, gold plating, and gold-plated connectors. Gold plating is used to boost the conductivity of electrical components and prevent corrosion, while gold foil is utilized to provide a layer of insulation on delicate components. Data is transmitted over gold-plated cables connected to components with gold-plated connections. Multi-layer insulation (MLI), which shields components from severe temperatures, also contains gold.

In other words, gold is crucial to the development and maintenance of satellites. Due to its special qualities, it is a perfect material for a number of uses, including insulation and radiation shielding. Multi-layer insulation, which helps shield fragile components from severe temperatures, also contains gold.


Why Are Satellites Covered In Gold Foil? 

Gold foil is used to protect satellites from the extreme temperatures encountered in space. As a reflecting covering, the gold foil serves to shield the satellite from the sun’s rays, which can reach temperatures of up to 3000°F. The gold foil also aids in shielding the satellite from space’s extreme cold, which can reach -250°F. The gold foil aids in heat reflection, keeping the satellite from overheating. The gold foil also shields the satellite from UV rays and other types of radiation. The amount of electrical interference that can obstruct the satellite’s communication equipment is also lessened by the gold foil. The gold foil helps in preventing electromagnetic interference from damaging the satellite’s communication equipment. The gold foil also helps shield the satellite from debris and dust that could harm its delicate parts. Satellites can continue to function in the harsh environment of orbit by employing gold foil.


Satellite covered in foil

Benefits Of Gold Plating In Aerospace  

Due to its many advantages, gold plating is a preferred choice for aerospace applications. In terms of corrosion resistance, electrical conductivity, and thermal stability, gold is superior. Moreover, gold plating is extremely durable, making it the best choice for parts exposed to harsh conditions and temperatures.

To shield delicate components from radiation, gold plating is often employed in aircraft applications. Because gold is a superb radiation reflector, the quantity of energy that may be absorbed by the components is decreased. This can aid in preventing radiation damage to the components.

Furthermore,superior electrical conductivity, which is necessary for the operation of many aeronautical components, is another benefit of gold plating. The effectiveness of gold plating can last for a very long time because of its high resistance to oxidation. Because of this, gold plating is a fantastic option for components that are exposed to abrasive environments.

Finally, gold plating is applied to items in aerospace applications to enhance their visual appeal. A dazzling, lustrous surface that is extremely resistant to fading and discoloration can be achieved with gold plating. This can contribute to the parts’ overall aesthetic improvement and increase their consumer appeal.


Other Uses Of Gold In Aerospace 

Gold has been used in aerospace for a variety of applications.  Gold is utilized for plating as well as for its electrical conductivity, thermal characteristics, and corrosion resistance. In the aircraft industry, gold is employed in numerous ways, including:


Electrical Connections

Gold is often used to connect electrical components in satellites, spacecraft, and other aerospace machinery. As a dependable connecting material and excellent conductor of electricity, gold is ideal for aircraft applications.


Thermal Control

Aerospace thermal control systems also employ the usage of gold. Because gold is a good conductor of heat, heat can be transferred through it and away from delicate components. In addition to reflecting heat away from the spacecraft, gold is a highly reflective material. 


Radiation Shielding

Gold is likewise used in radiation shielding. Since gold is a good radiation absorber, it is the perfect material for protecting delicate components from radiation. Gold is a perfect material for use in aircraft applications because it is also incredibly corrosion resistant.

Other uses for gold in the aerospace industry include the creation of high-precision parts and the development of optical components. Gold is a crucial component of the aerospace industry, and its use is expanding as new technologies are created.

Other Uses Of Gold In Aerospace


What Is Multi-Layer Insulation?

In aerospace applications, a form of insulation called multi-layer insulation (MLI) is used to manage temperature and defend against extremes. MLI is made up of an inner core of insulation material and several layers of thin, flexible materials, typically metalized plastic films like Mylar, Kapton, or Teflon. The air gap that separates each layer aids in minimizing the passage of heat and cold between the layers. 

Moreover, the air gaps serve as a radiation barrier, reflecting and encasing heat and cold. Better temperature management and protection from severe temperatures are possible thanks to the MLI’s many layers, which offer greater insulation than a single layer of insulation material alone. Several aerospace applications, such as those for satellites, spacecraft, and aircraft, utilize MLI. Other industries, like the automotive and construction sectors, also use it.


Examples Of Gold Coating In Aerospace  

There are several examples of gold coating in aerospace. In the aerospace sector, gold is utilized in a wide range of products, including satellites, aircraft, and spacecraft. Because of its special qualities, including its superior thermal and electrical conductivity, its resistance to corrosion, and its resistance to wear, gold is utilized in these applications.

Gold has been employed in the aerospace industry for a long time and in a number of different ways. For instance, gold plating is frequently used to shield spacecraft’s exterior from the harsh environment of space. Within spacecraft, gold plating is also employed to shield delicate electronic components from the incredibly hot conditions in orbit. Satellites’ interiors are also coated with gold to provide thermal insulation and protect them from the incredibly hot temperatures of space.

In order to protect the exterior of aircraft from the elements and to give it a sleek, aerodynamic appearance, gold is also employed as a coating. Moreover, gold plating is utilized inside airplanes to offer electrical insulation and safeguard delicate parts from high temperatures.

Thermal insulation in the aerospace sector is accomplished with the use of gold. In order to shield satellites and spacecraft from high temperatures, gold is employed as an exterior coating. In order to further insulate spacecraft and satellites against the incredibly hot temperatures of space, gold is also employed in this process.

Finally, gold is used to coat the exterior of aircraft, to provide a sleek, aerodynamic look, and to provide protection from the elements. Gold plating is also used on the inside of aircraft, to provide electrical insulation and to protect sensitive components from extreme temperatures.


Gold Plating Services  

Satellites are only one of the many aerospace applications that might benefit from gold plating services. The metal parts of a satellite are shielded from corrosion and other environmental conditions by gold plating. Since that gold has a higher electrical resistance than other metals, gold plating is frequently utilized to create electrical insulation. Moreover, gold plating aids with heat dissipation, which is crucial for spacecraft subjected to harsh space temperatures.

Specialized metal plating businesses offer gold plating services for aeronautical applications. These businesses employ numerous methods for gold plating, such as electroplating, electroless plating, and sputter coating. The method chosen will be determined by the particular specifications of the aerospace application.

When gold plating a satellite, a thin layer of gold is applied to the metal components. The gold layer is typically only a few micrometers thick, and it is closely monitored to make sure it adheres to the necessary standards. The gold layer is often sprayed to the satellite’s outside, although occasionally, it may also be put internally.


How Much Gold Is Used On Satellites?

Due to its superior electrical and thermal qualities, gold is commonly used in satellites. Gold plating is used to improve the connection between electrical components and to safeguard the satellite from the hostile environment of orbit. How much gold is actually put into satellites, though?

Depending on the usage and type of satellite, different amounts of gold are used. A communication satellite, for instance, uses more gold than a satellite for science. The quantity of gold utilized on a satellite is often expressed in grams or ounces. A satellite will typically consume 1 to 3 ounces of gold plating.

The gold plating is usually used on the antennae, solar panels, and other components that are exposed to the vacuum and extreme temperatures of space.  The satellite is shielded by the gold plating from radiation and other environmental dangers that could harm the electronics. The gold plating also aids in strengthening the electrical connections between the parts.

In some circumstances, the gold coating may also be utilized to control the satellite’s temperature. As a heat sink, the gold coating can assist keep the satellite cool by absorbing heat. This makes it possible for the satellite to function at its ideal temperature.


Gold Coatings For Temperature Control 

Gold coatings are used in aerospace for temperature control. Gold plating is a process in which a thin layer of gold is deposited on a material’s surface. This process is used to improve the performance of a material by providing insulation, corrosion protection, and enhanced electrical and thermal conductivity. Gold is a particularly effective material for temperature control as it has a high thermal conductivity and low emissivity, meaning it can easily absorb, disperse, and reflect heat.

Gold platings are used to protect sensitive components from extreme temperatures. Components exposed to high temperatures, such as those found in satellites and spacecraft, are frequently coated with gold plating. The component’s integrity is maintained by the gold plating, which offers defense against the high temperatures. Moreover, gold coatings can act as thermal insulation, lowering the risk of a component overheating.

In the same vein, components are shielded from extremely cold temperatures by gold plating. Due to its high emissivity and low thermal conductivity, gold is a fantastic material for thermal insulation. 

As a result, it can readily absorb and reflect cold temperatures, protecting components from extremely cold temperatures. Due to its high durability, gold plating can also be employed to shield components from severe shocks and vibrations.

Gold plating is an effective method of temperature control, as it provides insulation, corrosion protection, and enhanced electrical and thermal conductivity. Gold coatings can help to protect components from extreme temperatures, vibrations, and shocks, helping to maintain their integrity and performance. Gold plating is also an economical choice, as it is a relatively inexpensive process.


Gold plating


Final Thoughts 

There you have it – all the information you need to know about gold plating! But that’s not all from Valence. We also offer a range of other plating services, including cadmium plating, nickel plating, copper plating, and more. Check out our plating services to learn more. 

The use of gold plating in the aerospace industry is highly beneficial for a variety of reasons. Gold plating provides a protective barrier against the harsh environment of space and is also able to regulate temperatures. 

If you have any questions or need help with nickel plating services, our experienced team is here to help. Give us a call, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. With Valence Surface Technologies, you can rest easy knowing your parts are in the best hands.



Is gold used in satellites? 

Yes, gold is used in satellites. Gold is a highly reflective material, which makes it well-suited for use in space. Gold plating is often used to coat the exterior of a satellite, which helps to protect it from the harsh environment of space. 

Gold is also used in other parts of satellites, such as the interior components, to help regulate temperature and protect sensitive electronics from radiation.


How much gold is in a satellite? 

The amount of gold used in a satellite varies depending on the type of satellite and its intended use. Generally, satellites use a thin layer of gold plating, which is typically measured in microns. The exact amount of gold used in a satellite is typically kept confidential by the manufacturer, but it is estimated to be between 0.1 and 0.5 milligrams per square meter.


Is gold rare in space?  

Gold is not rare in space, but it does have a limited availability. Gold is found in asteroids and other cosmic bodies, but it is not found in large enough quantities to be mined. As a result, gold must be mined on Earth and then transported to space for use in satellites.


Why does NASA use gold in space? 

NASA uses gold in space for a variety of reasons. Gold is a highly reflective material, which helps to protect satellites from the extreme temperatures in space. Gold is also a good conductor of electricity, which makes it ideal for use in sensitive electronics. 

Finally, gold is a non-corrosive material, which helps to protect satellites from the harsh environment of space.

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