parking orbit n.

an orbit around the earth or some other planet from which a space vehicle can be launched farther into space; also, an orbit which is stable and from which visits to the planet surface can conveniently be made

  • 1941 R. Heinlein Methuselah's Children in Astounding Science-Fiction Aug. 76/1 page image Robert A. Heinlein bibliography

    Approaching Earth, he called over the patrol frequency and asked for a parking orbit, as he did not wish to set the Chili down on Earth.

  • 1953 D. Knight Definition in Startling Stories Feb. 120/1 page image Damon Knight bibliography

    The local patrol…warned him not to land. But instead of shunting into a parking orbit and waiting for instructions, as he was told, Jackson headed for open space under full drive.

  • 1958 ‘C. M. Knox’ Prime Commandment in Original Science Fiction Stories Jan. 6/1 page image Robert Silverberg bibliography

    Even had the strangers come that night, if they had left their ship in a parking orbit and landed on World by dropshaft, it might not have happened.

  • 1967 J. Blish Star Trek 79 James Blish bibliography

    The planet’s effective mass would change, and perhaps even its center of gravity…so that what had been a stable parking orbit for the Enterprise at one moment would become unstable and fragment-strewn the next.

  • 1978 D. Bischoff & T. White Forbidden World in Amazing Stories Jan. 113/2 page image David Bischoff Ted White bibliography

    It took more time than they thought it would, and they had to leave their parking orbit and retreat further from Anteron III to make them safer from any possible reprisals.

  • 1991 M. Byers MisFITS in Aboriginal Science Fiction Mar.–Apr. 46/2 page image Mike Byers bibliography

    A plan of action was needed, and quickly. He was approaching a parking orbit.

  • 2000 M. Jarpe Vasquez Orbital Salvage & Satellite Repair in Asimov’s Science Fiction July 54 page image Matthew Jarpe bibliography

    Unidentified vessel, your current heading is in violation of Venus orbital priorities, alter course for high parking orbit and identify at once.

Research requirements

antedating 1941

Earliest cite

Robert A. Heinlein, "Methuselah's Children", in Astounding

Research History
Ralf Brown located and Mike Christie submitted a 1958 cite from Robert Silverberg's "Prime Commandment" (published pseudonymously as by "Calvin M. Knox").
Jeff Prucher verified a 1953 cite from the first publication of Robert A. Heinlein's "Starman Jones"
Jesse Sheidlower submitted a 1941 cite from Robert Heinlein's "Methuselah's Children," in Astounding.

Earliest cite in OED2: 1960; updated to the 1953 Heinlein cite in OED3.

Last modified 2023-11-07 16:12:56
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.