Trade Goods


Hello folks, Astronaut Clyde Belshe here.  I wanted to say a few words about visitation liberty when docking at an asteroid colony for a few days.

All sailors wander.  This held true since the early days of sailing, even to this day.  After a long voyage, confined within the hull of a ship, the coming to a foreign port just triggers a longing for a good, long stroll with sightseeing.

Colonies, like ports on Earth, will be like people.  Each one will be different.  While all people have arms, legs, lungs, hearts, and heads, they will be total individuals just the same: hair color, skin color, foot size, hand preference, and over-all temperament.  It will be the same with colonies, and that will be what makes them interesting.

So how will money be spent?

There will be exchange offices, of course.  Recognized official places where your home currency can be exchanged for local currency, minus the usual “fees” for exchange itself.  Then you can go out and spend.

But sailors and spacefarers love to barter.  In other words, do some trading on their own.  There are many restrictions on earth about doing so now. However, it was not always the case like that, and maybe somewhere in the future things might.

Trading commodities for an individual will be items small, easily carried, and valuable to the customer.

Seeds may come to mind.  Especially seeds from earth.  Given every colony will have its own gardens for basic food stocks, even food seeds such as tomatoes and cucumbers will still be valuable, since they would add to the genetic mix and variety of the resident crops.  But on the other hand, flower seeds would be prized as “luxury” goods, which would add color and variety to any household garden.

Frankincense and myrrh, the two famous spices mentioned in the Christmas Story, would be priceless in outer space, where their sweet aroma would do much to eliminate “station” smells.  If a spacer/sailor arrives with a small bag of those, he could practically name his own price: hard candy, purely a luxury item not seen on practical, hard-nosed mining or agricultural colonies, would certainly be worthwhile to bring along.

Threads and colored ribbons; mother of pearl buttons; possible, but difficult to manufacture out in space (and not necessary), but again, quite versatile and welcome in any household; very tradable. Genuine Earth spices, such as pepper, sage, bay leaves, cinnamon, chili pepper, table salt, and who knows?  Sugar as well.

Then again, there’s the ancient, old-fashioned, thoroughly reliable stock in trade as well: Labor.

Want a home cooked meal?  Split some of the wood out back for our ornamental, but working fireplace.  Need some help with the plumbing?  Are you good with small motors?  My son had a program crash on his PC.  –Can you help?  My father is shifting some furniture.  My daughter’s bicycle needs repair…

No matter how advanced any colony or city becomes, there is always plenty of labor-intensive, low-level scutwork to be done.

Besides, it’s a good chance to talk to the daughter!

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