Practicalities of Spaceflight

With the invention of the fusion torch, high-thrust continuous burn ships finally began to make travel between the planets a possibility. Unfortunately, there were and still are many myths concerning space flight. For instance, it is not cheap; not everyone can afford to take a vacation on Mars, and few ever leave their home world. Also, communication is not real-time, so only recorded messages can really be transmitted between worlds, and access to other worlds’ internets is prohibitively slow.

Costs

Space flight is not cheap. Building, maintaining, and operating a spacecraft is an expensive proposition that demands high prices of travelers to remain feasible. Humans also require special preparations to survive in space, and orbital mechanics can plays a role in prices, as well.

The typical cost of a ticket varies greatly. Often, achieving orbit is quite pricy, owing to the necesity of grossly inefficient chemical propellants in large quantities. This can mean costs as high or higher than $24,000 just to reach low Earth orbit. Beanstalks like that of Mars can transport cargo and people for a mere $1,000 per trip, however. Any ship capable of atmospheric flight can theoretically land and take off on its own, but the use of nuclear drives in atmosphere are strictly prohibited everywhere outside of Mercury (it already has a fusion reactor blasting it constantly).

An average ticket for one person flying coach costs $250/day plus $2/1 mps of dV between orbits. This assumes a common flight with no service staff and minimum nutritional requirements for a typical human (3 meals and a gallon of water per day). Trips less than one day in length may not provide anything more than a light snack. First class accomodations cost twice that of coach, and luxury tickets run ten times that of coach. Children often require tickets costing only 40% of an adult’s.

Naturally, these ticket prices are estimated averages that do not take into account seasonal demands or special requirements. Cargo rates vary greatly from place to place, but are typically based on mass and dV required for the trip.

Medical Requirements

Vacuum and radiation can certainly kill a man, but the more subtle and insidious effects lie in the effects of long term residence in freefall. Some biomedical modifications and treatments can correct this, but it still costs money. As with all other aspects of space travel, someone must pay for it. It might be reasonable for a perk to provide permanent biomods that acclimate someone to space, and such mods may be given as payment for a job.

Travel Times

Travel times between planets varies dramatically depending on the bodies’ relative positions. Even so, transportation may represent a long period of downtime for many passengers, and depending on the spacecraft, this could be spent completely in freefall.

The more advanced ships are able to provide a continuous 1 G acceleration for the entire duration of the voyage.

Practicalities of Spaceflight

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