space gun n. 1

a large gun which projects a spacecraft into space; (also) a hand-held gun whose recoil is used by an astronaut for propulsion

Now chiefly hist., in reference to Jules Verne or H.G. Wells.


  • 1929 ‘F. Phillips’ Onslaught from Venus in Science Wonder Stories Sept. 327/2 page image Philip Francis Nowlan bibliography

    Half the population of the planet Venus hurled itself across the void of space at our own world…. Thousands were estimated by the invaders themselves to have missed the target through errors in calculation, and the imperfection of hurriedly constructed space ‘guns’.

  • 1935 H. G. Wells Things to Come 12 H. G. Wells

    The stormy victory of the new ideas as the Space Gun fires and the moon cylinder starts on its momentous journey.

  • 1954 K. W. Gatland Devel. Guided Missile (ed. 2) 197

    All the propellant could be consumed in the first second of take-off—as Jules Verne proposed in his famous ‘space-gun’.

  • 1970 N. Armstrong et al. First on Moon viii. 180

    This was where I had to use the little space gun.

  • 1988 I. McDonald King of Morning, Queen of Day in Asimov’s Science Fiction May 114 page image Ian McDonald bibliography

    [set in 1909:] Our French colleague has written most imaginatively…of how a great space-gun might propel a capsule around the moon.

  • 1992 B. Sterling Science in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction June 108/2 page image Bruce Sterling

    They might even be literally shot into orbit by Jules Vernian ‘space guns’.

Research requirements

antedating 1929

Earliest cite

"Frank Phillips" (Philip Francis Nolan), in Science Wonder Stories

Last modified 2020-12-16 04:08:47
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.