skyhook n. 2

a hook on an aircraft or spaceship capable of lifting burdens

  • 1939 M. Jameson A Question of Salvage in Astounding Science-Fiction Oct. 86/2 page image Malcolm Jameson bibliography

    It’s now or never, Bert. Slip those anchors into the electric oven and start exciting them. We'll try skyhooks over that ship. If they hold, you'll be on Easy Street.

  • 1960 J. W. Campbell in Astounding Science Fact & Fiction Apr. 5/1 John W. Campbell, Jr.

    So: assume some form of true space-drive. A modified sky-hook or an antigravity gadget—anything. It’s a space-truck—not a delicate and hyper-expensive rocket. It can carry tons, and work for years.

  • 1983 M. McCollum Life Probe xvii. 152 Michael McCollum

    Fifty meters out, a cable from Bernadotte whipped around and snagged Brea’s grappling hook. She braced herself for the moment when she would run out of slack, but the blow was surprisingly mild when it came. As soon as she felt tension in the cable, she faced in the direction of Bernadotte’s rotation and boosted with all the thrust her backpack jet could provide. After thirty seconds, she judged her speed to be roughly the same as the ship’s and shut down to await pickup. After long minutes spent as the hapless weight at the end of a long pendulum, she was hauled aboard. The maneuver was called riding the skyhook and was principally used to transfer personnel between rotating ships whose design didn’t include a docking sphere at the spin axis.

  • 1997 Science-Fiction Studies Mar. 142

    What I'd lost—what sf had lost—after Sputnik had stitched its way back and forth across the new mundane sky, was the old sense that space was a magic portal, a sky-hook capable of hiking us into the future.

  • 2005 C. Stross Accelerando v. 185 Charles Stross

    Several skyhooks have unfurled in equatorial orbit around the earth like the graceful fernlike leaves of sundews, ferrying cargo and passengers to and from orbit.


Research requirements

antedating 1935

Earliest cite

Meier & Lindbergh in Sci. Monthly (N.Y.) Jan. 5

Research History
Fred Galvin submitted a cite from a reprint of a John Campbell editorial; Mike Christie verified the cite in the 1960 original appearance.
Enoch Forrester submitted a 1939 cite from Malcolm Jameson's "A Question of Salvage".

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