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It has detailed analysis of the economics of interstellar trade, and a system of equations to model trade routes and economic demands.
Merchant Starship Costs Assumption: starships in the interstellar empire are equivalent to present-day jet airliners.Assumption, average of 1/2 of retail price goes to shipping cost.Therefore the minimum price of interstellar imported goods are $200 per kilogram.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?So the starship initial purchase price is about 1/10th of the overall lifetime service cost ($1 million / (30 * $300,000)).
Actually it will be closer to 1/5th due to the interest on the purchase loan.
Therefore it costs $300,000 per ton of cargo capacity per year to run a cargo starship.
This ignores taxes, station docking fees, and fuel.
This means the ship owner must earn $100,000 of profit per ton of cargo.
That is, selling price at destination MINUS purchase price at origin must be $100,000 or more.
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 $30 million (not counting fuel, landing fees, and taxes).