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RE: [OT]-Interstellar Trade

From: "Brian Bell" <bkb@b...>
Date: Sun, 7 May 2000 18:34:15 -0400
Subject: RE: [OT]-Interstellar Trade

Well, here is my take on it when I set up ITTT

Interstellar trade is expensive to set up, but not expensive, in and of
itself, to run. The most expensive barrier to interstellar trade is the
various governments use of taxes, tariffs, and commerce raiding.

Most new colonies will not be set up for interstellar commerce. The cost
transporting and planting the colony with enough people, food, and
for SURVIVAL is going to be great enough that it is not done on a whim
by large governments). Basic items to be sent to the colony would be:
- people (IIRC 5000 is about the minimum to begin a self-sustaining
- food for consumption (1st year + 1 year reserve)
- materials for housing
- seed for planting
  - soil for planting in initially
  - equipment to prepare the soil for earth plants
- water purification equipment (for people to drink and for food plants)
- air purification equipment
- power generator for colony
- equipment for exploration
- equipment for scientific study of planet
- equipment for basic manufacturing
- equipment for communication
  - on planet
  - local space (interstellar communication is non-cannon)
- equipment for manufacturing
  - basic (fix the plow)
  - mid-tech (fix the radio, make a computer)
  - advanced for special purposes (extraction and purification of
Vanrijidium 238). This would only be included if it was the purpose for
  - heavy industry would not be included unless it was the reason for
colony (atmosphere processing plants for terraforming).
Without heavy industry or advanced tech, most new colonies would be
to build the ships necessary for interstellar trade. Thus they rely on
corporations (ITTT) or free traders for transportation of goods. Things
they cannot afford to import, they will have to make or make do without.
After the colony grows to the size that it has unutilized manpower, it
start to pool the resources necessary to build a space port and/or
starships. Many colonies have tried to include the materials necessary
build a star port, but such colonies often die because of the additional
debt incurred in transporting and maintaining the excess materials. And
often such colonies are too tempting a target for the "Little Napoleons"
invade the colony and enslave or kill the population to expand their
"empire" (why should we build a colony when it is much cheaper to ship
troops to take one someone else has built, especially if it has a space
to support our next acquisition?).

This is how ITTT makes a profit. It sets up a 99 year exclusive contract
with colonies to be the sole shipping source for interstellar goods and
travel. This is about the necessary time for a minor colony to develop
excess manpower and resources needed to develop its own interstellar
But by being the EXCLUSIVE pipeline for goods, it collects on every
in or out of the planet. In this deal it also avoids being
taxed/tarrifed to
death by local and regional governments (one of the things free traders
ships from colonies are often hit with, turning a profit into a loss).

The other big concern is commerce raiding. In these times of
war, commerce to a planet or region is viewed as a valid target. While
operating a starship is of acceptable expense, loosing one to pirates,
not. And running a warship to escort your shipping is too expensive for
traders or many colonies. This is another reason why corporations such
ITTT seem to flourish. They have the deep pockets necessary to field
and Q-Ships in their trade convoys (and insurance).

How is it done?
I see a couple of ways:
1) Large colonies will have orbital platforms for unloading of cargo
bulk freighters. They will divide up the cargo containers for
on the planet. Cargo will be transferred either by beanstalk or by
2) Medium size colonies, will probably have a fair size space port (on
ground). Ships, that service these colonies, will have to have interface
craft to shuttle the goods to the space port. At the space port goods
then be divided  for distribution on the planet. Usually, this size
will have export containers already packed for the trader to pick up, so
exchange of containers is performed.
3) Small colonies will have neither an orbital platform, nor a space
They will have a beacon, and a landing zone. Again, traders will have to
have interface craft to transport cargo to the surface. There the
will be unloaded and reloaded with exports. This may take a little time
they may not have an exchange container and may have to unload the
before they can load the exports. Larger companies will donate an
container to make the stop quicker, but free traders will not have the
resources to provide each stop with an exchange container (and make the
with an empty container to give them as an exchange container). Since
and IAS have "standardized" the modular containers, this is less of an
than it once was. Even small colonies can now manufacture containers
(but it
is standard law that the manufacturer is responsible for losses traced
to a
container that fails in the first 10 years of its service). Most
will travel to the landing site for distribution of their goods.

Brian Bell <>
ICQ: 12848051
AIM: Rlyehable

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-gzg-l@CSUA.Berkeley.EDU
[mailto:owner-gzg-l@CSUA.Berkeley.EDU]On Behalf Of Christopher K Smith
Sent: Sunday, May 07, 2000 04:00
To: gzg-l@CSUA.Berkeley.EDU
Subject: [OT]-Interstellar Trade

It's about 2:30 am and I can't sleep, so I thought I would contribute
of my ideas on this subject.  I deleted the messages that started the
so I started an new one.  Anyway, from what read the problem is ground
orbit cost and interstellar transport cost.  If you have the tech to
both cheap enough for a reasonable return on your investment, you have
tech to make trading redundant, except for specialty items.  So a little
hand waving is in order.  Here's my take.  Let's say that the ability to
produce FTL devices requires some fairly high tech gadgets, but the
required to power these devices is relatively low.  I'm not going to get
into specific numbers, since it is after 2 in the morning.   Furthermore
let's say that the FTL device works by opening a "wormhole".  For the
to orbit situation, you could say that an FTL device on the ground opens
stable wormhole to a position in orbit.  Thus allowing you to transport
goods to orbit at a reasonable cost.  To keep you from just transporting
your goods directly from planet to planet ,  and keep spacecraft in the
picture (which is where the funs at anyway), you have to put some
restrictions on the FTL devices.  Say a gravity well does have an
on the FTL device.  But, for small entrance and exit situations, say big
enough for a railroad car size pallet o' stuff, an FTL device can work
in a
gravity well over VERY short distances, like from ground to VERY HIGH
The reason for a very high orbit, say over twice the diameter of the
is to keep from having the FTL device being used as a mass transit
So your spacecraft in orbit pick up the trade goods at the exit point of
wormhole.  To keep spacecraft from FTLing right on top of your planets,
have the restriction of any distance greater than <insert reasonable
distance here> requires that BOTH the entrance and exit of the wormhole
out of the gravity well.

Just some thoughts.

Christopher K Smith
SR MECH Auburn University

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