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"A good science fiction story should be able to predict not the automobile but the traffic jam."
- Frederik Pohl

Plug-Ups  
  Tiny plastic balls that seal leaks on spacecraft.  

These devices were used in Climber-type warships due to their exceedingly thin hulls.

"Where're the plug-ups?" the Commander demands...

"Oh." The man doing the relay talking hits a switch. Little gas-filled plastic balls swarm into the compartment. They range from golf-ball to tennis-ball size...

The plug-ups will drift aimlessly throughout the patrol, and will soon fade into the background environment. No one will think about them unless the hull is breached. Then our lives could depend on them. They'll rush to the hole, carried by the escaping atmosphere. If the breach is small, they'll break trying to get through. A quick-setting, oxygen-sensitive goo coats their insides.

From Passage at Arms, by Glen Cook.
Published by Warner in 1985
Additional resources -

Compare to quartzite leak foil from The Great Dome of Mercury (1932) by Leo Zagat, tag-along balloons from Gentlemen, Be Seated (1948) by Robert Heinlein, leak disks from Islands in the Sky (1952) by Arthur C. Clarke.

Another way to plug holes in spacecraft or other constructions in space is to have some sort of material already present in the walls. Compare to alpha inserts from Exiles of the Moon (1931) by Schachner and Zagat, quartzite leak foil from The Great Dome of Mercury (1932) by Leo Zagat, plastifoam from Collision Orbit (1941) by Jack Williamson and self-sealing plastic from Asteroid of Fear (1951) by Raymond Z. Gallun.

Special thanks to Winchell Chung, who probably doesn't remember contributing this item.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Passage at Arms
  More Ideas and Technology by Glen Cook
  Tech news articles related to Passage at Arms
  Tech news articles related to works by Glen Cook

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