Eclipse Phase | AUSTIN, TEXAS | 2015-2019 A.D.
Civilian Space Travel
Civilian Space Travel
While the militaries send their fleets about the Solar System, many times that number of civilian vessels are travelling about the Solar System at any given moment. The majority of these ships are carrying cargo, but there are many vessels that also carry passengers. Most passenger craft carry a mixture of cargo and passengers, since there are relatively few vessels built exclusively for passenger travel.
Fares for passenger and cargo travel are based on mass and distance traveled, and also by the type or class of travel. Customs and immigration inspections are always required to ensure that the rules of travel and commerce are followed. For people travelling between the planets, there are pre- and post-journey activities, as well the journey itself. Even with the rhetoric flying between Jovian, Planetary Consortium, Lunar Lagrange Alliance and Morningstar Constellation politicians, the amount of traffic within the Solar System has never been higher. At the same time, the increasing amounts of cheap arms on the market – legally and illegally – have made some routes more susceptible to pirate attacks.
Ticket Prices in the Inner System
The base fare for interplanetary passenger travel is equal to the square root of the distance travelled in kilometers. For example, a journey between Earth and Mars is 272.6 million kilometers on average. Therefore, the base fare is the square root of 272.6 million, which equals 16,510 credits. This base fare is then subject to a Transit Multiplier based on the Class the passengers will be traveling. First Class passage costs 4 times the base fare; Second Class passage costs 2.5 times the base fare; Business Class passage costs 2.5 times the base fare; Third Class passage costs 2 times the base fare; Economy Class passage costs 1.5 times the base fare; finally, Sleeper Class passage costs 0.5 times the base fare.
Cargo over the limit allowed by the paid passage is allowed, and carries a rate increase of 25% of the fare per 20% increment of additional cargo. For example, the charge for transporting 200% of the allowed cargo limit is equal to 125% of the passenger’s fare. The actual fare can also vary from as little as 50% to more than 200% depending on factors like planetary positions and re-mass burn rates. Shortened transit times will always cost more due to fuel costs. Though there are few circumstances that would cause a passenger line to schedule a faster-than-normal trip, it does occur occasionally, with a proportional increase in the base fare.
Lifting and Descent Fees
For those who require transportation between a planetary surface and orbit, there are lifting and descent fees for passage to and from orbit. There is a single price for lifting from, and returning to, surface locations. Purchasing both lift and descent tickets simultaneously provides a discount of 25% over the purchase of two individual fares. For those travelling to and from orbit via Space Elevators, tickets are discounted by 25% for the fuel savings granted by the skyhook. Cargo fees for passenger baggage are equal to a single ticket as a percentage of 75 kilograms. For example, a passenger lifting 50 kilograms from Earth will pay 66% of the usual 845 credit fee, or 558 credits (rounded up).
First Class fare entitles the passenger to a private suite (two or three rooms) located in the gravity wheel, if the vessel is equipped with one. The suite will likely have several windows providing an exterior view of the ship. Having paid the most for their passage, First Class passengers receive priority access to all shipboard amenities such as theaters, restaurants, game rooms, lounges and personal services. All of these services (with the possible exception of meals) are included with the fare. First Class passengers also receive room service. Each First Class passenger is allowed 300 kilograms of cargo.
Second Class fare entitles the passenger to a cabin with a private bathroom likely located in the gravity wheel, but without an exterior window. Access to common facilities is provided at a greatly discounted user fee. Second Class passengers receive a good selection of meal plans. Each Second Class passenger is allowed 200 kilograms of cargo.
Business Class fare offers business travelers less cargo allowance, but provides high-priority access to onboard computer and communication facilities. They receive the same cabin assignments and meal plan choices as Second Class travelers, but the common facilities available are more geared toward the working business person, with the fees adjusted accordingly. Each Business Class passenger is allowed 50 kilograms of cargo.
Third Class offers the passenger limited privacy in a small private cabin with compact shower and sanitary facilities. The cabin is little more than a storage locker for the passenger’s cargo and a sleeping bag. The passenger receives a limited selection of meal options, and does not receive a discount on the user fees for recreation and entertainment facilities. Each Third Class passenger is allowed 50 kilograms of cargo.
Economy Class fares provide the passenger with basic meals and dormitory-style sleeping arrangements that vary from two to eight people per room. Economy Class passengers are restricted from some facilities, and do not receive any discounts. Each Economy Class passenger is limited to 20 kilograms of cargo.
Cryogenic Storage, or Sleeper Class, is available as the most inexpensive form of passenger travel. The passenger spends most of the voyage in a semi-comatose state monitored by the ship’s computer and medical personnel; they are woken regularly for exercise and medical checkups, but do not receive meals or entertainment. Sleeper accommodations are available in both the hull and gravity wheel, to maintain the health of travelers from different locales. Each Sleeper Class passenger is allowed 50 kilograms of cargo.
There are many companies offering passenger services between the planets at any one time. Numerous independent vessels offer service on irregular schedules that are posted on the Mesh. People who don’t mind taking a little longer to travel to their destination can sometimes find a berth on a Merchant or Mining ship, though normal practice requires passengers to work with the crew as part of the passage price.
The Venusian company Eclipse Travel is the largest company to offer regularly scheduled service between the inner planets. The Jovian company Galileo Spacelines offers travelers scheduled service between the Jovian states and the inner Solar system in addition to bimonthly service between the Jovian states. Smaller companies such as Trans- Planet (LLA], Inner System [Venus) and Universal (Mars) offer travelers a choice in service between the company’s home planet and one or two other planets.