space ark n.

a large ship designed to move or rescue large numbers of people, often with large ecosystems and many animals and plants on board


  • 1948 N. B. Wilkinson in Astounding Science Fiction July 38/1 page image Neal B. Wilkinson bibliography

    Religious prophets…were recruiting funds and followers for huge space arks in which they would journey to a promised planet.

  • 1973 A. C. Clarke Rendezvous with Rama 42 Arthur C. Clarke

    What we have here is undoubtedly a ‘Space Ark’. It’s an old idea in the astronautical literature; I've been able to trace it back to the British physicist J. D. Bernal, who proposed this method of interstellar colonization in a book published in 1929.

  • 1973 A. C. Clarke Rendezvous with Rama (1974) 44 Arthur C. Clarke

    Some writers suggested that these Space Arks should be built in the form of concentric spheres; others proposed hollow, spinning cylinders so that centrifugal force could provide artificial gravity—exactly what we've found in Rama…

  • 1977 J. W. Macvey Interstellar Travel (1978) 8

    These include generation travel (space arks) and the use of cryogenics (suspended animation).

  • 1998 C. Pellegrino Afterword in C. Pellegrino & G. Zebrowski Star Trek: Next Generation: Dyson Sphere (1999) 212

    By contrast to what has traditionally been known as the large, slow-moving ‘space ark’ approach to interstellar flight, Valkyrie becomes a low mass speedboat.

  • 1999 Extrapolation Summer 155

    Most readers will resolve the instability of science and fantasy by developing a rational explanation, first by hypothesizing that this ‘whorl’, as it’s called, with its cities visible above in the night sky, is some sort of space ark (generation starship) illuminated with the futuristic equivalent of a huge fluorescent light bulb.

  • 2020 E. Bear Machine ii. 29 Elizabeth Bear bibliography

    People who fled the Eschaton in their primitive space arks did so because they believed that anybody who stayed behind would die, along with the rest of humanity.

Research requirements

antedating 1948

Earliest cite

N. Wilkinson 'Decision Illogical'

Research History
Fred Galvin submitted a cite from a 1978 reprint of John Macvey's "Interstellar Travel".
Fred Galvin submitted a 1987 cite from Colin Ronan's "Deep Space".
Fred Galvin submitted a cite from a 1979 reprint of Iain Nicolson's "The Road to the Stars".
Fred Galvin submitted a 1989 cite from Robert Jastrow's "Journey to the Stars".
Mike Christie submitted a 1973 cite from Arthur C. Clarke's "Rendezvous with Rama". This cite mentions that the idea was described by J.D. Bernal in a book in 1929. Dave Langford checked "The World, The Flesh and the Devil", which was published by Bernal in 1929 and discusses the concept of space arks, but Bernal uses the terms "space vessel" and "globe", and not "space ark".
Jeff Prucher submitted a 1999 cite from an article by John Gerlach in Extrapolation.
Mike Christie submitted a 1948 cite from Neal Wilkinson's "Decision Illogical".
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 2020 cite from Elizabeth Bear.

Last modified 2021-02-03 23:38:09
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.