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"If you don't care about science enough to be interested in it on its own, you shouldn't try to write hard science fiction."
- Frederik Pohl

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.
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...

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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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