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"Science fiction is the very literature of change. In fact, it is the only such literature we have."
- Frederik Pohl

Plastifoam  
  Used to seal large leaks in space craft.  

As far as I know, this is the first instance of the self-sealing or even self-healing material for space craft and vacuum habitats.

Krrrang!

At that loud reverberation, the Venusian turned pasty-yellow...

"That was an alarming sound," Drake admitted patiently. "But the particle that made it was smaller than the head of a pin. It struck three inches of good steel. We have a layer of lead, to absorb the gamma ray, and a seal of compressed plastifoam to save the air if one comes through."

Technovelgy from Collision Orbit, by Jack Williamson.
Published by Astounding in 1942
Additional resources -

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 and self-sealing plastic from Asteroid of Fear (1951) by Raymond Z. Gallun.

Another way to plug holes in spacecraft or other constructions in space is to bring some other material to put in place over the hole. Consider the 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 and plug-ups from Passage at Arms (1985) by Glen Cook.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Collision Orbit
  More Ideas and Technology by Jack Williamson
  Tech news articles related to Collision Orbit
  Tech news articles related to works by Jack Williamson

Plastifoam-related news articles:
  - Michelin Self-Sealing Tires On Ford's Explorer

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