For comparison purposes we need an airliner's average cost of running, but the corporations are remarkably closed-lipped about that.

Using a long series of estimations whose details can be found in Rick's article he concludes that the annual operating cost for an airliner is about million (not counting fuel, landing fees, and taxes).

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There is a long history of SF novels about interstellar free traders eking out a marginal existence on the fringes of the huge trader corporations, from Andre Norton's Solar Queen novels to the Space Angel series by John Maddox Roberts.

Big assumption since JP-4 is about $1.39 per gallon.(ed note: starships are going to require lots of infrastructure.)Assumption: the service life of a merchant starship is 30 years.

So the starship initial purchase price is about 1/10th of the overall lifetime service cost ($1 million / (30 * $300,000)).

Assumption: starships are strictly orbit-to-orbit, they use space ferrys to transfer passengers and cargo between the starship and the planet.

Assumption: starship purchase price will only be about

Assumption: starship purchase price will only be about $1 million per ton of cargo capacity instead of $2 million, because starships are orbit-to-orbit, need no landing gear, need no wings, can use lighter structure because they accelerate under 1 g, and we will assume they can carry twice as much cargo per deadweight (inert mass) as a cargo jet.This makes each trip four months from departure to departure, or three cargos per year.This means the ship owner must earn $100,000 of profit per ton of cargo.Question: how many cargos can a merchant starship carry in 1 year?That is, assuming a full cargo turnover at each port of call, how many one-way runs can the ship make? From departure planet orbit to FTL flight to arrival planet orbit. Assumption: each trip requires one month for servicing, maintenance, selling the cargo, buying new cargo for the next run.This ignores taxes, station docking fees, and fuel.

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Assumption: starship purchase price will only be about $1 million per ton of cargo capacity instead of $2 million, because starships are orbit-to-orbit, need no landing gear, need no wings, can use lighter structure because they accelerate under 1 g, and we will assume they can carry twice as much cargo per deadweight (inert mass) as a cargo jet.

This makes each trip four months from departure to departure, or three cargos per year.

This means the ship owner must earn $100,000 of profit per ton of cargo.

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

That is, assuming a full cargo turnover at each port of call, how many one-way runs can the ship make? From departure planet orbit to FTL flight to arrival planet orbit. Assumption: each trip requires one month for servicing, maintenance, selling the cargo, buying new cargo for the next run.

This ignores taxes, station docking fees, and fuel.

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Assumption: starship purchase price will only be about $1 million per ton of cargo capacity instead of $2 million, because starships are orbit-to-orbit, need no landing gear, need no wings, can use lighter structure because they accelerate under 1 g, and we will assume they can carry twice as much cargo per deadweight (inert mass) as a cargo jet.

This makes each trip four months from departure to departure, or three cargos per year.

This means the ship owner must earn $100,000 of profit per ton of cargo.

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

million per ton of cargo capacity instead of million, because starships are orbit-to-orbit, need no landing gear, need no wings, can use lighter structure because they accelerate under 1 g, and we will assume they can carry twice as much cargo per deadweight (inert mass) as a cargo jet.This makes each trip four months from departure to departure, or three cargos per year.This means the ship owner must earn 0,000 of profit per ton of cargo.Question: how many cargos can a merchant starship carry in 1 year?That is, assuming a full cargo turnover at each port of call, how many one-way runs can the ship make? From departure planet orbit to FTL flight to arrival planet orbit. Assumption: each trip requires one month for servicing, maintenance, selling the cargo, buying new cargo for the next run.This ignores taxes, station docking fees, and fuel.