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The leader of the thalassocrats is of course called the thalassiarch.This section is basically a rough outline of Rick Robinson's Interstellar Trade: A Primer.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 makes each trip four months from departure to departure, or three cargos per year.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.
Assumption: starships are strictly orbit-to-orbit, they use space ferrys to transfer passengers and cargo between the starship and the planet.This means the ship owner must earn 0,000 of profit per ton of cargo.That is, selling price at destination MINUS purchase price at origin must be 0,000 or more.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.