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"...in fifty years, do you believe that people will be recognizably human?"
- Greg Bear

Life-Ship  
  An emergency escape or survival craft.  

This is a very early use of this phrase, maybe the first.

...Jared Nathan, rear admiral in the Terrestrial Fleet, had set the condemned men free in a life-ship before the planetoid had been reached.
Technovelgy from The Invisible World, by Ed Earl Repp.
Published by Amazing Stories in 1940
Additional resources -

Compare to emergency lifeboats and the ablative heat shield from Triplanetary (1938), the escapecraft from The Ethical Equations (1945) by Murray Leinster, the emergency space-boat from Revolt of the Star Men (1932) by Raymond Z. Gallun, the escape pod from Star Wars (1976) by George Lucas, the survival bubble from Footfall (1985) by Niven & Pournelle, the life tubes from Liners of Space (1930) by Jim Vanny.

See this related story Space Rescue Technology In Fact And Fiction.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Invisible World
  More Ideas and Technology by Ed Earl Repp
  Tech news articles related to The Invisible World
  Tech news articles related to works by Ed Earl Repp

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