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Don't forget the entry in this website about Cargo Holds As mentioned below, if you want to play around with interstellar trading, or even try doing a full simulation (to do worldbuilding for creating the background of your new novel), I'd suggest getting a copy of GURPS Traveller: Far Trader.

Written with help from a real live economist, this allows one to model interplanetary and interstellar trade with equations and everything.

It has detailed analysis of the economics of interstellar trade, and a system of equations to model trade routes and economic demands.

Sometimes the traders live in large "clan-ships", developing a "trader culture." Each ship is a world, carrying the entire clan. Novels including this include CITIZEN OF THE GALAXY by Robert Heinlein, STAR WAYS aka THE PEREGRINE by Poul Anderson, the Cities in Flight novels of James Blish, MERCHANTER'S LUCK and FINITY'S END by C. Cherryh, RITE OF PASSAGE by Alexi Panshin, A DEEPNESS IN THE SKY by Vernor Vinge.

You can alter some of the assumptions yourself to tweak the economy to suit your science fictional background.

Merchant Starship Costs Assumption: starships in the interstellar empire are equivalent to present-day jet airliners.

Sometimes these trader cultures in large clan-ships have a Thalassocracy, where they have a monopoly on trade since they control all access to space.

If people living on planets want to engage in interstellar trade, they have to go through the thalassocrats.

Assumption: cargo starship operating cost is similar to cargo jet.

You'd probably be better off reading the full article but some people want executive summaries.

Rick starts with certain assumptions and follows them to various conclusions about the interstellar economy.

With creative maintenance, the service life might be longer than 30 years, see below.

Question: how many cargos can a merchant starship carry in 1 year?

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