Commerce in Space

Commerce in space will be driven by the demands of exchange and the economic factors involved.

Raw Materials:
Air and water are likely to be in high demand and even if they become somewhat abundant, will always remain treasured for their inherent importance. Food will be mostly manufactured locally, assuming you have the raw materials and machines, and will be cheap, with little need for commerce. Luxury and specialty items can always remain an exception. Energy will become extremely cheap, almost free and produced entirely locally, converting solar energy to electricity. The best commerce opportunities will lie in the devices used to collect and store energy.

Finished Goods:
With production of many raw materials becoming possible locally, trading is likely to concentrate on goods and services that are products of the raw materials. In the native zero-gravity vacuum environment of space, electronics and nanotechnology are likely to flourish.

  • Habitat/ship components – modules for construction of external frameworks and internal finishing will be generic and use nanotechnology to adapt to any design plan and even automate most of the process of building and finishing
  • Electronics/Nanotechnology – core components of both areas will supply the basic elements for communication and navigation gear, machinery and bots
  • Machinery/bots – generic bot cores will be mass produced and in high demand, with specialized functions available as add-on kits and programming to configure nano-features
  • Environmental – life support, energy cycling, food production and “life enhancement” will be among the most in demand specialized modules

Services:

  • Communications – comm networks will be ubiquitous and with a wide range of scale, from large astro-nav nets to small personal-suit and device based nets.
  • Information – data of all kinds will flow seamlessly across the comm nets, providing a constant feed
  • Health – health monitoring, diagnoses and most surgery will have become automated, while specific applications may need specialized supervision
  • Education – basic education can be completely automated, but specialized modules dealing with individual needs and advanced topics and customized learning plans will also be needed and will require extra effort
  • Systems/Programming – most programming and systems development will be automated, but the agents to do this (at the high end at least) are likely to be proprietary and highly customized, offering good commerce opportunities

Affluence and Luxury:
With free space, cheap building materials and energy and the cost of doing most things reduced greatly by automation, space dwellers will seem affluent and appear to lead lives of luxury compared to folks back on Earth. The sense of affluence and freedom of choice will eventually influence commerce, creating more emphasis on quality of life and the “luxury” items that make that possible. Artistic design of gargantuan (because of the low cost) living spaces and bio-medical enhancements are likely to be among this group.

SEE ALSO:
Economics in Space

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