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"On-line gaming environments are completely different things... Essentially it's massive global role-playing."
- Peter Watts

Landing-Cradle  
  A supporting structure for a space craft landing on a planetary surface.  

This seems like an early use of this term. The idea is that craft made for space need additional support if landing on a planetary surface, due to the gravity.

The white-lit opening of the air-lock gaped before them. He took her arm politely, stepped out beside her on the top of the narrow steelite debarking-ladder that led down to the ground. The ship was nestled snugly in the high curving uprights of a landing-cradle.
Technovelgy from The Radium World, by Frank K. Kelly.
Published by Wonder Stories in 1932
Additional resources -

E.E. 'Doc' Smith uses the same term in Triplanetary (1934):

They came to a stop--paused, weightless--a vast door slid smoothly aside--they were drawn upward through an airlock and floated quietly in the air above a small, but brightly-lighted and orderly city of metallic buildings! Gently the Hyperion was lowered, to come to rest in the embracing arms of a regulation landing cradle.

Again in Hotel Cosmos (1938) by Raymond Z. Gallun:

“Space Liner Ardis coming in from Planet Five of Antares. Landing at 10:19 p.m. in fourth cradle of Civic Space Docks. 4-2-5 on board! 4-2-5 on board! Caution! Caution!

Poul Anderson liked it; he put it in The Corkscrew of Space (1956):

Laslos Magarac threaded past the crowds till he got to the spaceport fence. He had an impulse to pay a dollar to one of the telescope concessionaires for a look at the fifty great ships orbiting around the planet, but decided against it—the line was too long. After all, twice a local year was about once an Earth-year, so it was a capitalized Event—but the shuttle boats blasting down, sheeting flame through clouds of kicked-up red dust, were spectacular enough.

There was one arriving now, descending on a tail of fire some four miles away—which put it almost on the horizon. It was a bright gleam against the dark-blue sky, under the shrunken sun. As he watched, it entered its cradle...

Randall Garrett used a variant in Needler in 1957, with a nice illustration by Emsh:

The Killiver was sitting in its launching cradle at the far side of the ten-mile-square Grand Port of Kandoris. Roysland didn't bother to take the tubeway; he flashed his credentials and commandeered a surface jeep. Bilford had already taken charge of the crew, but Roysland wasn't worried about them; he wanted a look at the ship.


(Landing-Cradle from Needler by Randall Garrett)

A variation of the same expression, from They Never Came Back (1941) by Fritz Leiber:

HEY, YOU! What’s your business?”

Bart Harlan, standing on the cat-walk that circled the upper rim of the docking-cradle, did not immediately answer the shouted question. He clung to the thin hand rail, bracing himself against the sheets of rain which drove across the almost deserted landing field, and stared wearily down into the shadowy interior of the cradle...

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 on an asteroid from Murder on the Asteroid (1933) by Eando Binder, docking cradle from They Never Came Back (1941) by Fritz Leiber, landing-grid from Sand Doom (1955) by Murray Leinster and landing pit from The Stars My Destination (1956) by Alfred Bester.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Radium World
  More Ideas and Technology by Frank K. Kelly
  Tech news articles related to The Radium World
  Tech news articles related to works by Frank K. Kelly

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