Like space exploration, coinage production requires ever-changing technology.
A new, collector ringed-bimetallic 500-tenge coin from Kazakhstan
marks a development in coinage technology while celebrating space exploration.
Tantalum, a gray metal, is critical in the aerospace industry
because of its high melting point and strength. But tantalum is bright
purple on one coin in an annual series honoring the former Soviet
Socialist republic and the journeys into space that are launched there.
According to the National Bank of Kazakhstan, this is the first
coin to use tantalum in color, though neither the bank nor the
Kazakhstan Mint revealed how the color was achieved. Similar color
changes are achieved on niobium, a similar metal, through heat treatment.
The International Space Station is the subject of two coins: a
Proof 2013 500-tenge coin and an Uncirculated copper-nickel 50-tenge
coin. The 500-tenge coin is composed of a .925 fine silver ring
surrounding a tantalum core.
Kazakhstan is the site of Baikonur Cosmodrome, the home of Russian
space launches, which have included missions to the multinational ISS.
The space station, including its large solar arrays, spans nearly
the area of a U.S. football field, including the end zones, and weighs
924,739 pounds. Astronauts recently began the 38th mission to the ISS
since the arrival of Expedition 1 on Nov. 2, 2000.
The station appears on the reverse of both coins, with both
obverses bearing designs that are common to the other coins of the
Space program, which began in 2006.
The 50-tenge coin weighs 11.17 grams, measures 31 millimeters in
diameter and has a mintage limit of 100,000 pieces.
The 500-tenge coin measures 38.61 millimeters in diameter and
weighs 41.4 grams (the ring weighs 14.6 grams and the center weighs
26.8 grams). It has a mintage limit of 5,000 pieces. ■