ferry n.

a small spacecraft used, esp. on a regular schedule, to transport passengers or cargo over a relatively short distance, as between an orbiting craft and a planet’s surface

Now used as a non-hypothetical term in astronautics.


  • 1941 R. Heinlein Logic of Empire in Astounding Science-Fiction Mar. 10/1 page image Robert A. Heinlein bibliography

    The company has obligations to its stockholders…and it can’t afford to run an interplanetary ferry for the benefit of a class of people that feel that the world owes them a living.

  • 1951 A. C. Clarke Exploration of Space 78 Arthur C. Clarke bibliography

    At the end of these manœuvres, which would occupy only a few hours, it would be back in a stable, circular orbit waiting to be refuelled and serviced, and the crew could be taken down to Earth by one of the winged ‘ferry’ rockets.

  • 1952 ‘M. Sherman’ Matter of Faith in Space Science Fiction Sept. 66/2 page image Robert A. W. Lowndes bibliography

    It was easy, too, to enter the planet Grekh; you just boarded an interworld ferry from either of the two sister-planets.

  • 1962 ‘L. del Rey’ Thunder in Space in Amazing Stories June 21/1 page image Lester del Rey bibliography

    The little ferry ship used between the ships and the station was still here, too. It could be used to bring the fuel back easily, since it had been equipped with tanks for moving fuel between supply rockets and the balloons.

  • 1978 B. W. Aldiss Enemies of the System in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction June 5/2 page image Brian W. Aldiss bibliography

    From the ferry, the passengers transferred to a gulfhopper awaiting them in a parking orbit around the Moon.

  • 2012 B. W. Aldiss Finches of Mars xvii. 92 Brian W. Aldiss bibliography

    The ferry carried the new exiles from Armstrong up to the Confu, waiting in orbit.

Research requirements

antedating 1941

Earliest cite

Robert Heinlein

Last modified 2020-12-28 18:23:55
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.