ion drive n.

a spacecraft propulsion system that uses electrically accelerated ions

SF Encyclopedia


  • 1947 J. Williamson Equalizer in Astounding Science Fiction Mar. 18/1 page image Jack Williamson bibliography

    Lifecraft 18 was a trim steel missile… It had its own ion drive, a regular crew of six, and plenty of additional space for our party.

  • 1955 ‘L. del Rey’ In the Still Waters in Fantastic Universe June 23/1 page image Lester del Rey bibliography

    He served for a year on one of the old ion-drive passenger lines, and he was quite sentimental about all ion-drive ships.

  • 1964 Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction Oct. 81 page image

    The ships are using the ion drive engine, which gives off a characteristic blue glow… The ion drive engine generates its power from nuclear energy.

  • 1968 S. E. Whitfield in S. E. Whitfield & G. Roddenberry Making of ‘Star Trek’ ii. ii. 192 bibliography

    Discussions…had already ruled out atomic power as inefficient and inadequate for achieving hyper-light speeds. Ion drive was ruled out for the same reasons.

  • 1970 P. Anderson Tau Zero (1973) 25 Poul Anderson bibliography

    The ion drive came to life. No man could have gone behind its thick shielding to watch it and survived.

  • 2004 P. F. Hamilton Pandora's Star vii. 173 Peter F. Hamilton

    Once they'd fallen a kilometre from the gateway, their ion drives came on, pushing them into high-inclination orbits which would provide coverage of the planet’s whole surface.

  • 2006 N. Asher Polity Agent i. 27 Neal Asher bibliography

    The H-shaped craft drew to a sudden halt above them, then began to descend.…One strut of the H contained the ion drive, and possibly its controlling AI—though such ships were usually telefactored—and crew quarters if necessary.

Research requirements

antedating 1947

Earliest cite

Jack Williamson, The Equalizer

Research History
Mike Christie submitted a 1947 cite from Jack Williamson's "The Equalizer".

Earliest cite in the OED: 1958.

Last modified 2021-04-10 17:07:54
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.