space drive n.

a propulsion system for a spaceship; cf. star drive n.


  • 1932 J. W. Campbell Invaders from Infinite in Amazing Stories Quarterly Spring 154/2 page image John W. Campbell, Jr.

    There we shall have plenty of work to do, but on the way we are going to stop at Mars and pick up that very valuable ship of theirs and make a very careful examination for possible new weapons, their system of speed-drive, and their regular space-drive, if it is not the same.

  • 1932 J. W. Campbell Electronic Siege in Wonder Stories 3 Apr. 1247/2 page image John W. Campbell, Jr. bibliography

    The slim, graceful ship rose smoothly into the atmosphere, angling slightly up, then driving forward as the gentle hum of mighty Farrel Atomics poured their millions of horsepower into the McKinley space-drive discs.

  • 1941 R. Arthur Operation Successful in Astounding Science Fiction Dec. 89/1 Robert Arthur bibliography

    Janice Lansing, whose father, old John Lansing, had made his twenty millions honestly, as royalty on the Lansing Space Drive.

  • 1947 R. A. Heinlein Rocket Ship Galileo vi. 63 Robert A. Heinlein

    I'll bet he wants to steal your space drive, Uncle Don.

  • 1949 J. H. Schmitz Agent of Vega in Astounding Science Fiction July 35/2 James H. Schmitz

    Took off—under space drive!

  • 1949 Astounding Science Fiction July 35/2

    Took off—under space-drive!… How'd he do that without wrecking—With a tractor on him!

  • 1959 D. A. Wollheim Secret of Ninth Planet 36 Donald A. Wollheim

    First, he was introduced to all the other members of the crew, and given a mass of papers to study which outlined the basic means of the new space drive, and which detailed the opinions and suggestions of various experts as to methods of procedure and courses of action.

  • 1963 A. E. van Vogt Beast xi. 81 A. E. van Vogt

    Some terrible emergency had arisen, and because your body had been exposed to the energies of their space drive, and because your blood type is a rare kind, they had to use you in this emergency.

  • 1967 M. Hodous Dead End in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact May 104/1

    ‘How did the drone handle? Any trouble switching it in or out of hyperdrive?’ ‘None. The drag field worked beautifully. The drone handled like another part of my own ship—which I guess it was. No trouble with any of the other equipment; that hyperdrive probably could have handled another drone. It still would have been nice if you could have tossed in a synthograv unit, though.’ ‘Fusion reactor,’ Taylor began. ‘Normal space drive. Hyperdrive unit, big enough to handle your ship and the drone.’

  • 1979 A. C. Clarke Fountains of Paradise 50 Arthur C. Clarke

    For centuries, men have dreamed of anti-gravity or of ‘spacedrives’.

  • 1980 D. Brin Sundiver v.xiv. 157 David Brin

    The wolfling race may develop a crude spacedrive from the dregs of its patron’s technology.

  • 1994 R. Silverberg Hot Sky at Midnight 52 Robert Silverberg

    Its work involves an experimental spacedrive, the first interstellar voyage, faster-than-light travel.

  • 1998 T. Chiang Story of your Life in P. N. Hayden Starlight 2 309 page image Ted Chiang bibliography

    It didn’t exclude the possibility that the heptapods might yet offer us a space drive, or cold fusion, or some other wish-fulfilling miracle.

Research requirements

antedating 1932

Earliest cite

John W. Campbell, Jr; 'The Electronic Siege'

Research History
Ralf Brown located and Edward Keyes submitted a 1959 cite from Donald Wollheim's "Secret of the Ninth Planet".
Mike Christie submitted a 1941 cite from Robert Arthur's "Operation Successful".
Mike Christie submitted a 1949 cite from James H. Schmitz's "Agent of Vega".
Douglas Winston submitted a 1976 cite from Jack L. Chalker's "A Jungle of Stars".
Jeff Prucher submitted a cite from a 2002 reprint of Ted Chiang's 1998 "The Story of Your Life"; Jesse Sheidlower converted it to its first published appearance, in Patrick Nielsen Hayden's "Starlight 2" collection.
Douglas Winston submitted a 1963 cite from A.E. van Vogt's "The Beast".
Douglas Winston submitted a cite from a reprint of Robert A. Heinlein's 1947 "Rocket Ship Galileo".
Malcolm Farmer submitted a cite from a 1974 revised reprint of E.E. "Doc" Smith's "The Skylark of Space", but Alistair Durie checked the 1928 first publication, and found that the term had been added in the revision: the term was not used in the original publication.
Fred Galvin submitted a 1932 cite from John W. Campbell Jr.'s "The Electronic Siege". He then submitted another 1932 cite from Campbell's "Invaders From the Infinite": both Campbell cites were from magazines dated in the early part of 1932, so it is debatable which was the earlier appearance.

Last modified 2022-06-19 16:42:31
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.