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"We [science fiction writers] always wanted to believe in "private sector" space -- hucksters make better characters than a government does."
- Larry Niven

Space Men  
  Beings who travel and work in space.  

This is probably the first use of this tem.

As the Space Rover swung away, to the surprise and consternation of the Tanarkans, Alan began to work feverishly over the various cells and circuits. Phyllis was ever at his side.

As we swung away from the city the space men from Tanark followed us. But only for a short distance. Their speed could never equal that of the Space Rover. Two hours later we descended again on the city.

Technovelgy from The Exiles of Venus, by Jim Vanny.
Published by Wonder Stories in 1931
Additional resources -

Just a year later, this phrase appeared in Revolt of the Star Men, by Raymond Z. Gallun:

Why couldn't these polar fish survive the cold of space? Simply because the protoplasm of their tissues, based on water, would instantly become solid, and in solids as I have said, there can be no real life except perhaps in the form of suspended animation. The Space Men face no such danger, for first, their bodies are protected by this heat-resisting outer covering; and second, the liquid in their veins freezes only at absolute zero, and since it is radio-active—producing heat from within itself—it cannot get that cold even in the void. And that, friends, is the whole stupendous simple explanation.

Just ten years later, this phrase was familiar enough to lose its hyphen; listen to this speech given to raw recruits in Robert Heinlein's 1940 story Misfit:

"Now about our job -- We didn't get one of the easy repair-and-recondition jobs on the Moon, with week-ends at Luna City, and all the comforts of home... You'll get space sick, and so homesick you can taste it, and agoraphobia. If you aren't careful you'll get ray-burnt...

"But if you behave yourself, and listen to the advice of the old spacemen, you'll come out of it strong and healthy, with a little credit stored up in the bank, and a lot of knowledge and experience that you wouldn't get in forty years on Earth. You'll be men, and you'll know it.

Compare to astronaut from The Death's Head Meteor (1930) by Neil R. Jones, space pirate from Evans of the Earth-Guard (1930) by Edmond Hamilton, astrogator from The Conquest of Space (1931) by David Lasser, space-sailor from The Star-Roamers (1933) by Edmond Hamilton, spacedog from A Question of Salvage (1939) by Malcolm Jameson, space marines from Misfit (1939) by Robert Heinlein, rocketeer from Sunward Flight (1943) by Leo Zagat and space cadet from Sunward Flight (1943) by Leo Zagat.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Exiles of Venus
  More Ideas and Technology by Jim Vanny
  Tech news articles related to The Exiles of Venus
  Tech news articles related to works by Jim Vanny

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