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"Science fiction operates a little bit like science itself, in principle. You've got thousands of people exploring ideas, putting forth their own hypotheses. Most of them are dead wrong; a few stand the test of time; everything looks kind of quaint in hind"
- Peter Watts

First Contact  
  The initial encounter with a non-human race.  

This is the first instance of this great phrase in science fiction.

He had piloted the Adastra to its first contact with the civilization of another solar system. His lifework was done and he was wholly prepared to rest...

The space ship swelled on the visiplate as Jack turned the knob. He brought it to an apparent distance of a few hundred yards only...

From Proxima Centauri, by Murray Leinster.
Published by Astounding Stories in 1935
Additional resources -

The phrase "first contact" first appeared in the late nineteenth century, in an anthropological sense.

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

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