launching laser n.

a high-powered laser used for the launching of spacecraft, either by vaporizing propellant at the rear of the craft, or by radiation pressure on a solar sail n.

  • 1971 L. Niven Fourth Profession in 1972 Annual World’s Best SF (1972) 23 page image Larry Niven bibliography

    You don’t have to depend on sunlight, not if you’re launching from a civilized system. Every civilized system has a moon-based launching laser. By the time the sun is too far away to give the ship a decent push, the beam from the laser cannon is spreading just enough to give the sail a hefty acceleration without vaporizing anything.

  • 1981 V. Vinge True Names in Binary Star No. 5 179 Vernor Vinge

    As they fell deeper into the humid air of the lowlands, Mr. Slippery dipped into the news channels: word was already coming over the LA Times of the fluke accident in which the Hokkaido aerospace launching laser had somehow shone on MT3’s optics.

  • 2007 A. Grossman Soon I will be Invincible 75

    When the doomsday device is unveiled, the launching laser built, the weather-controlling satellite finally aloft, the skies dancing to my whim.


Research requirements

any evidence 1971

Earliest cite

Larry Niven, 'The Fourth Profession'

Research History
Carol Phillips submitted a 1971 cite from Larry Niven's "The Fourth Profession."
Adam Buchbinder submitted a 2007 cite from Austin Grossman's "Soon I will be Invincible"
Adam Buchbinder submitted a cite from a 1987 reprint of Vernor Vinge's 1981 "True Names", which Mike Christie verified in the original.

In addition to antedatings, we would like further cites of any date from other authors.

Last modified 2021-11-05 17:06:37
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.