Not just spaceships, but most complex things in the cosmos. Where does the money come from?
(Have I written about this before?)
It’s a question that spoils a lot of science fiction films for me. We see these utopian visions of interstellar travel and cities on other planets, the Death Star, and I think ‘well that’s all very well, but how were they financed?’
It’s dangerous to assume the same financial environment exists in the 24th Century, but just for a moment let’s assume there’s a will to build a city-planet, the kind you see in Star Trek and Star Wars. On earth in the current climate, you can spend nearly a billion pounds building a football stadium.
How much would an entire city cost? A city the size of a small planet? In space?
Consider the engineering logistics for a moment. How do you get a 120 metre box section steel beam into outer space? It’s hard enough dragging one of these things up the M6. They won’t fit into the back of a Space Shuttle.
Build them in space. Fair enough. That means building a steel works in space and you’re back to square one. The biggest thing we’ve built in space is the International Space Station and looking at some of the pictures of it, there’s not enough room inside to swing a cat. It’s taken nineteen years to build what’s there and it still isn’t finished.
Whatever cosmological or engineering solution you find it still brings us back to my original question. How much? How much did the Death Star cost the Empire to build? It’s the size of a moon. Even if they used slaves to build it, or apprentices, you’d still have to pay something. Labour costs can be up to half the budget of a construction job, but that still leaves 50% to find for all that cladding, piping, flooring, IT, heating systems, foul waste treatment, not to mention the fees for planning permission (which the Empire would probably ignore anyway.)
Raw materials: mine another planet. Transportation: quantum tunnelling. We can find an answer for most of the engineering, but if you know how these megaprojects are paid for in the 24th Century let me know and we can get a Kickstarter campaign going.