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"No one has ever produced a statement of fact that was technically true. The most accurate statements of science we have today are accurate to only 15 decimal places."
- Bart Kosko

Landing-Grid  
  A constructed landing area on a planetary surface for space craft.  

The ship-phone clicked again.

“Mr. Bordman. Miss Redfeather. According to advices from the ground, the ship may have to stay in orbit for a considerable time. You will accordingly be landed by boat. Will you make yourselves ready, please, and report to the boat-blister?” The voice paused and added, “Hand luggage only, please.”

Aletha’s eyes brightened. Bordman felt the shocked incredulity of a man accustomed to routine when routine is impossibly broken. Of course survey ships made boat landings from orbit, and colony ships let down robot hulls by rocket when there was as yet no landing grid for the handling of a ship. But never before in his experience had an ordinary freighter, on a routine voyage to a colony ready for its final degree-of-completion survey, ever landed anybody by boat.

“This is ridiculous!” said Bordman, fuming.

“Maybe it’s adventure,” said Aletha. “I’ll pack.”

She disappeared into her cabin. Bordman hesitated. Then he went into his own. The colony on Xosa II had been established two years ago. Minimum comfort conditions had been realized within six months. A temporary landing grid for light supply ships was up within a year. It had permitted stock-piling, and it had been taken down to be rebuilt [9]as a permanent grid with every possible contingency provided for. The eight months since the last ship landing was more than enough for the building of the gigantic, spidery, half-mile-high structure which would handle this planet’s interstellar commerce. There was no excuse for an emergency! A boat landing was nonsensical!

Technovelgy from Sand Doom, by Murray Leinster.
Published by Astounding Science Fiction in 1955
Additional resources -

Here are more details from the same story:

This was a cargo ship. Cargo ships neither took off nor landed under their own power. It was too costly of fuel they would have to carry. So landing grids used local power—which did not have to be lifted—to heave ships out into space, and again used local power to draw them to ground again. Therefore ships carried fuel only for actual space-flight, which was economy. Yet landing grids had no moving parts, and while they did have to be monstrous structures they actually drew power from planetary ionospheres. So with no moving parts to break down and no possibility of the failure of a power source—landing grids couldn’t fail! So there couldn’t be an emergency to make a ship ride orbit around a planet which had a landing grid!

Leinster uses it again the following year in Exploration Team:

He reached the edge of the landing field, and it was blindingly bright, with the customary divergent beams slanting skyward so a ship could check its instrument-landing by sight. Landing fields like this had been standard, once upon a time. Nowadays all developed planets had landing-grids—monstrous structures which drew upon ionospheres for power and lifted and drew down star-ships with remarkable gentleness and unlimited force. This sort of landing field would now be found only where a survey-team was at work, or where some strictly temporary investigation of ecology or bacteriology was under way, or where a newly authorized colony had not yet been able to build its landing-grid. Of course, it was unthinkable that anybody would attempt a settlement in defiance of the law!

Compare to splashdown from From the Earth to the Moon (1867) by Jules Verne, landing stage from Atomic Fire (1931) by Raymond Z. Gallun, landing-cradle from The Radium World (1932) by Frank K. Kelly, landing on an asteroid from Murder on the Asteroid (1933) by Eando Binder, docking cradle from They Never Came Back (1941) by Fritz Leiber and landing pit from The Stars My Destination (1956) by Alfred Bester.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Sand Doom
  More Ideas and Technology by Murray Leinster
  Tech news articles related to Sand Doom
  Tech news articles related to works by Murray Leinster

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