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Casual Interplanetary Travel

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Eternal Father, King of birth, who didst create the heaven and earth!
And bid the planets and the sun, their own appointed orbits run!
O hear us when we seek thy grace, for those who soar through outer space.
— J.E. Volonte

Currently it takes about 20 million dollars of government support to get a single human being into Low Earth Orbit, and only robots have gone beyond the moon. Aside from the massive cost there are supply considerations because getting just about anywhere takes months if not years. However, in many stories involving space (and nearly all outside of literature), even if interstellar travel is hard, interplanetary travel is easy, taking a couple days at most and within the range of at least an upper-middle class person cost wise.

In context, it's not that bad; historically, Christopher Columbus' first voyage cost less than two million - and once you reach orbit, you're halfway to anywhere. Once the infrastructure was in place, the original American immigrants made their journeys on personal funds - so there's no reason that the phenomenon shouldn't repeat itself by the 2050's so long as we get a "space Mayflower" by the 2020's. Better get to work on that.

Sister Trope of Casual Interstellar Travel. Sometimes there's minimum range limitation that makes only interstellar transit easy (say, wormholes), sometimes interstellar travel is still sublight or very difficult, but this is easy. May be justified with In-System FTL. At the other end of the spectrum, see Interplanetary Voyage (where interplanetary travel is treated as so difficult that it takes up the whole story) and Generation Ships.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • ARIA has people from Earth regularly visiting Mars (now called Aqua) for business or pleasure. A girl the main cast meets returns in the first season just to go to a New Years festival.
  • Battle Spirits Saikyo Ginga Ultimate Zero: As long as you have a ship, you can warp from planet to planet at impressive speeds in this world.
  • In Cowboy Bebop, the constantly broke protagonists nevertheless able to afford to operate an interplanetary fishing(!?) ship. This is facilitated by hyperspace, however.
  • Gundam:
    • Subtle examples can be found in the series, which likes to use Lagrange points around the Earth for its colonies, with the furthest ones at the L2 point (where the Principality of Zeon is located) being past lunar orbit. The L3 point (where Mobile Suit Gundam begins for example) is on the opposite side from the moon at any given time. Travel between these points, or from one to the Earth or the moon, takes a few days at most. Going out past the immediate area of lunar orbit, however, takes several months.
    • In the UC timeline, there exist colonies out at Jupiter, for gas-mining purposes. Travel out to the Jovian colonies is therefore fairly common and not much of a big deal, though it does take about six months on average to make the trip (the actual time is stated to vary heavily depending on where Earth and Jupiter are in relation to each other at the moment).
    • Gundam: Reconguista in G has the Venus Globe, a large space colony near Venus. It takes a few weeks to make the trip, but otherwise isn't treated as a big deal.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury: The protagonist, Suletta, is attending a school in orbit around Earth while being from a colony near Mercury, as the title implies. While Mercury is said to be the backwater boonies, nobody treats travelling that distance as noteworthy.
  • Lyrical Nanoha series is a bit vague about its cosmology but it seems that "dimension", "world", and "planet" mean the same thing in the setting. Spells like Dimensional Transfer are readily available to Magitek mages, and in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid, the heroes take a shuttle to another planet like one would take a bus to another town.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes takes place on Planet Xing, in a time where interplanetary travel is commonplace. The characters are sometimes seen boarding trains that ride through space, reaching their destinations as fast as a normal train would, without considering how far the planets would be.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers: The Avengers have Quinjets capable of going from Earth to Mars in the space of a few hours, at the most.
  • Superman:
    • In Who Took the Super out of Superman?, an alien race wants to destroy Earth because it's in the path of the interplanetary travel network they look to build. Additionally, Superman takes Brainiac and Amalac to a galactic prison compound located at the outer rim of the solar system and flies back to Earth in a matter of minutes.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): The Amazons have a small space worthy fleet, Diana's "robot plane" is capable of space travel, Paula invents a teleporter and by issue 27 Di has visited most of the planets in the solar system, there is a Saturnian embassy in DC and Di is pals with the queen of Venus.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): The Sangtee Empire covers at least two star systems and have shipping lanes through space, however interstellar travel is still a large undertaking for them especially to places outside the Empire's borders.
    • The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016): After the deception that convinced him to become Ares' champion is revealed, the Duke of Deception casually flies to Mars to confront Ares—only to find that Ares' martian base is long abandoned. The mixing of the gods with the planets of their names is a nod to Wonder Woman's creator, who treated Ares' spiritual realm as somehow contiguous with the physical planet.

    Fan Works 
  • In the second half of A Prize for Three Empires, the Avengers, the X-Men and the Starjammers travel quickly between the homeworlds of three diferent galactic empires thanks to their ships' FTL engines.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, the Legion of Super-Heroes' cruisers take hours at most to travel from Earth to Daxam, Rokyn and other planets.
  • In Shazam! fanfiction Here There Be Monsters, a rocket powered by Doctor Sivana's warpdrive can cover the distance from Earth to Venus in a matter of hours.
  • In Kara of Rokyn, warp spaceports allow easy -albeit heavily restricted- travel between planet Rokyn and Earth. Hal Jordan doesn't need them thanks to his Power Ring, but he still takes a full day to cover the huge distance between both planets.
  • In A.A. Pessimal's Discworld/The Big Bang Theory crossover The Many Worlds Interpretation, HEX (via the Travelling Engine) makes it easy for the Roundworlders to experience the Discworld in small, well-escorted parties. Things still go wrong, especially when Sheldon twocks the Engine and randomly programs it in such a way that HEX has to spend time untangling things. Penny gets to be First Woman on the Moon. At first, she is not greatly impressed.
  • Twelfth Equestriad Interview: As Claire Pie can create permanent Gates (wormholes) through a major effort (taking her years to decades of preparation) this is currently possible only between the Earth and Paradise, the moon Luna, and Mars. When a permanent Gate is set up, the Ponies run a railroad through it. In time, the whole Solar System will be linked by rail through the Gate system. After the passage of even more time, the Ponies hope to have Casual Interstellar Travel by this means.
  • Subverted in With this Ring... (Green Lantern). Green Lanterns are able to travel between planets quickly, easily and cozily thanks to their power rings, but even so, Zamaron is so far away that Hal, John and Katma take over one whole Earth day to get there.
    The planet of Zamaron is a hell of a long ways from Earth, but if you know the right shortcuts (through spacewarps) and have the right vehicle (a power ring), it can be made in less than a day. Provided your will power doesn't run out.
    Katma was carrying the Power Battery with her on a tether. Both it and the battery were invisible. Hal wanted to get the thing finished in under a day, but the trip up and back would take over 24 hours. When they got tired, they just put the rings on automatic and slept, surrounded by their protective green auras.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Gattaca has the eponymous company launching several spacecraft a day, including one to Titan, and is in no way implied to be the only company in the business.
  • Ad Astra: Regular commercial flights from Earth to the colonised Moon, 19 days from the Moon to colonised Mars, 79 days from Mars to uninhabited Neptune.

  • Alien in a Small Town: A trip to Mars on a passenger ship takes weeks, and doesn't seem terribly expensive.
  • All Tomorrows: After the Earth-Mars war the Star People spread rapidly throughout the solar system, but colonizing other stars requires automated seed ships that build colonists from stored DNA samples. Most of the post-Qu human species that re-evolve sapience also expanded into their star systems, but only the Gravitals and Asteromorphs were able to do more than send radio transmissions to other stars.
  • 1940's pulp hero Captain Future blasts off in the Comet from his hidden Moonbase to the jungles of Jupiter without a care. The Allen Steele reconstruction novels tried to add some realism, at least by contemporary scifi standards, by having the Comet be the equivilent of a 'space yacht' that can only travel between Earth and the Moon, which has to be ferried by a Mother Ship to get to Mars. In later Steele stories Captain Future has the Comet II which has an Alcubierre Drive, enabling this trope.
  • Isaac Asimov:
  • Arthur C. Clarke's The Space Odyssey Series: 2001: A Space Odyssey has the first manned mission ever to Saturn (retconned to Jupiter in the rest of the series to match the film). By 2061, the third book, interplanetary travel is evidently much more common, with colonies or outposts on several planets and moons and book opens with the protagonist as a guest on a luxury commercial cruise to a comet. By 3001, interplanetary travel is fairly routine.
  • Robert A. Heinlein:
    • His "Future History" has regular interplanetary travel available to the majority of humanity, but also repeatedly details how much work it took to make it Casual - see the quotes page.
    • In Heinlein's juvenile The Rolling Stones (1952), buying a spaceship capable of flying from the Moon to the Asteroid Belt is roughly equivalent to buying a sailing vessel big enough for a family to go on an ocean voyage.
  • In the Honor Harrington series, travel between planets is casual to the point of day trips to other planets by middle class people being possible (with favorable orbital positions). Midway through the series Honor commutes for a time between the Naval Academy on Manticore and her home planet of Sphinx.
  • Larklight: Due to space itself working differently (Space Is an Ocean and also breathable for short periods), faster-than-light speed is a matter of mixing the right chemicals together in the engine room. Therefore, travel across the solar system is not significantly more difficult from travel across the sea in finest Space Opera form.
  • In The Lords of Creation series, space travel is so expensive that there's little war on Earth, as both sides of the Cold War have been forced to pour their resources into the Space Race instead funding an arms race and Third World conflicts.
  • C.T. Phipps's Lucifer's Star: The Spiral (Orion's Arm) is a place that depends on Casual Interstellar Travel. Almost every planet is interdependent on other planets with only a few being self-sufficient. Trillions of tons of cargo are shipped from one world to the next every day in the same way as a standard planet due to the existence of jumpspace as well as a wholly integrated spacer culture. An Apocalypse How happened centuries ago when interstellar space travel was briefly rendered impossible.
  • In Alastair Reynolds' novels, interstellar travel is very arduous, as he is strict about there being no FTL travel in his stories. However, interplanetary travel is portrayed as relatively casual.
  • In Harry Harrison's The Stainless Steel Rat, the eponymous futuristic criminal observes early on that normally after a heist "a single world or a small system is too small for more work", but on this occasion he's not bothering to make an "interstellar hop", instead traveling from planet III to planet X in a system with almost twenty terraformed planets. This journey is treated like an airplane trip—he buys a ticket, annoys the woman in the seat next to his a bit (to ensure he'll be pigeonholed as "male, brash, annoying" and thereby confused with every other brashly annoying male), and then falls asleep in his seat until the ship reaches its destination.
  • In Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312, a trip from Mercury to Pluto via terrarium (hollowed-out asteroids containing largely self-sufficient biospheres) is measured in weeks. Relatively fast, but still leading some of those travelling to get temp jobs for the duration.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the 2300s of The Expanse the Epstein drive, a fusion drive capable of constant, high-efficiency thrust, has enabled the colonization of the Solar System. A single person can have their own mining ship, most trips take a couple weeks at most, and there are regular passenger services between population centers.
  • Firefly has this, as The 'Verse is confirmed to take place in one large, multi-star system. Although it stretches the definition of "casual" somewhat as transit times are often measured in weeks.
  • In Killjoys all the action on the show takes place in the neighborhood of a single inhabitable planet and its three inhabitable moons. The protagonists have no problem moving between them extremely fast.
  • From what we see of Lister's past in Red Dwarf, interplanetary travel is quite casual, with people living on several different planets and moons and often moving or having vacations to another. However, interstellar travel is not casual, and requires being sealed in stasis as it takes years. By the time Kryten left the solar system things must have become a bit easier, since his ship crash landed a long way from Earth (almost as far out as Red Dwarf itself got in 3,000,000 years.) Although exactly how long the ship he was on had been on that planet is never specified, at least not in the show.
    • The books play the trope both ways. There are "demi-lightspeed zippers" that can get you from Earth to the moons of Saturn in less time than a modern airliner takes to fly from London to New York if you've got the money, but when Lister did exactly that (and had no recollection of how, or why, when he sobered up) he learned to his cost that "casual" doesn't mean "cheap" and spent several months trying to get the money together for a ticket home.
  • The Stargate-verse has various shuttle-craft (Al'kesh, Puddle-Jumpers, etc.) that make it a breeze to fly from a planet's surface to say, the nearby moon. Not that every galactic Joe can own one, since they're mostly in the hands of organized militaries, empires, and crime syndicates, but it's not unheard of for a particularly enterprising individual to have their own private spacecraft.
    • For Earth specifically this is averted for several seasons until we have time to build our own ships, despite long since having become an interstellar power due to the SG teams and the stargates enabling Casual Interstellar Travel.
  • In the Canadian show Starhunter, interplanetary travel is semi-realistic but casual; push on the gas and you go faster, but it does take a couple of days to get from the moons of Jupiter to Mars. Interstellar travel exists (via Hyperspace), but is very new, cutting edge, rare, and dangerous.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Eclipse Phase plays with it. Physical travel from one planet to another takes weeks or months and is expensive, but most people upload to a rental body at their destination which can be just as pricey but only takes a few hours.
  • In Hc Svnt Dracones interplanetary travel takes a couple weeks and costs around a hundred credits (like a thousand bucks).
  • In Traveller travel within a star system takes a couple days, a week at most. While interstellar requires at least one week in jump plus the time to travel to/from the edge of both systems.
  • Urban Jungle's "Astouding Science" module based on pulp sci-fi has rules for atomic-powered rockets that can reach nearly anywhere in the solar system in days, but leaves the propagation of such technology up to the Host. In the sample adventure Telluria's supply of fissionables is nearly depleted, so their factions are trying to secure Earth's tellurium-307 through proxies and infiltrators that don't require as much fuel to transport as armies.

    Video Games 
  • In Rodina, the Limnal Drive upgrade to your ship allows you to fly from one end of the solar system to the other in a matter of minutes.
  • No Man's Sky makes space travel relatively easy. While you do need to craft fuel for starships for both space travel and to warp between systems, resources for said fuel are very plentiful and it's easy to stock up. And while you need upgrades to go to star systems of blue, red, and green stars, you can technically sidestep this by either calling in a freighter if you have one, or using a black hole to warp to someplace random. There is a risk of something getting damaged after traveling via black hole, but it's limited to only one or two pieces of tech, making it easy to fix and not crippling you upon exiting the black hole.
  • In Starfield, a game that also has Casual Interstellar Travel, hopping between planets is so casual it doesn't even require the ship's physics-bending grav drive, which implies regular ship engines are powerful enough to cover interplanetary distances in no more than a couple of hours. As for the costs, although spaceships are the most expensive things you can buy in the game, privately owned ships are very common regardless, almost all planets exchange vast amounts of goods every day through large cargo haulers, and there's an entire industry built around offworld luxury vacations or cruises to distant worlds. All in all, unless you're a particularly sedentary type, characters in this setting rarely treat space travel as more exciting than taking intra-city public transit.

    Western Animation 
  • Exo Squad has people travel between Earth, Mars, and Venus, as if it were to another country.
  • Used for a few gags in Futurama (which flip-flopped between Interplanetary Voyage as the plot or humor demanded):
    • In the second episode, when Fry is still new to life in the future, and the crew is getting ready to take-off and make a trip to the moon.
      Fry: Can I count down?
      Leela: Huh? Sure.
      Fry: Ten... nine... eight... seven...
      Leela: We're here.
      Fry: *quickly* Sixfivefourthreetwoone blast off!
    • Interplanetary travel is like crossing the street. Cubert and Dwight built a craft capable of doing it; they found it in an ad in a comic book. In another episode, Fry laments that he'll "never get into space" because his brother got to Mars first. Leela points out, "You went [to space] for donuts this morning."
  • On The Magic School Bus, Ms. Frizzle's class travels through the entire solar system, and still gets back home by the end of the school day. (They lampshade the trope, too.) Justified, as it is, after all, the magic school bus.