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"...science fiction is sort of like a sociological genome. It's a huge range of possible futures, most of them useless; some vital. You never really know in advance."
- Peter Watts
||Turning a torchship through a half-circle, thereby applying force in the direction of motion, slowing the ship down.
As far as I know, the earliest description of the "turnover" maneuver to slow a ship.
|Seaton and Crane drove the Skylark in the direction indicated by the unwavering object-compass with the greatest acceleration they could stand, each man taking a twelve-hour watch at the instrument board.
Now, indeed, did the Skylark justify the faith of her builders, and the two inventors, with an exultant certainty of their success, flew out beyond man's wildest imaginings. Had it not been for the haunting fear for Dorothy's safety, the journey would have been one of pure triumph, and even that anxiety did not prevent a profound joy in the enterprise.
"If that misguided mutt thinks he can pull off a stunt like that and get away with it, he's got another think coming," asserted Seaton, after making a reading on the other car after several days of the flight. "He went off half-cocked this time, for sure, and we've got him foul. We'd better put on some negative pretty soon hadn't we, Mart? Only a little over a hundred light-years now."
Crane nodded agreement and Seaton continued:
"It'll take as long to stop, of course, as it has taken to get out here, and if we ram them—GOOD NIGHT! Let's figure it out as nearly as we can."
They calculated their own speed, and that of the other vessel, as shown by the various readings taken, and applied just enough negative acceleration to slow the Skylark down to the speed of the other space-car when they should come up with it. They smiled at each other in recognition of the perfect working of the mechanism when the huge vessel had spun, with a sickening lurch, through a complete half-circle, the instant the power was reversed. Each knew that they were actually traveling in a direction that to them seemed "down," but with a constantly diminishing velocity, even though they seemed to be still going "up" with an increasing speed.
Until nearly the end of the calculated time the two took turns as before, but as the time of meeting drew near both men were on the alert, taking readings on the object-compass every few minutes. Finally Crane announced:
"We are almost on them, Dick. They are so close that it is almost impossible to time the needle—less than ten thousand miles."
|From Skylark of Space,
by E.E. 'Doc' Smith.
Published by Not known in 1928
Additional resources -
Here's another description of the same process, from The Power Planet (1930) by Murray Leinster:
But suddenly there was a little puff of vapor from the
base of the mail-rocket. A small puff. A minor puff,
more like a shot than the blowing of a rocket-tube. But
the long cylinder swung slowly about in space. Its base
had been presented to the sun. Its velocity was terrific,
and it would normally be checked gradually during the
last eleven million miles of its traveling. Now, though,
that base swung around toward Earth again until an-
other puff of vapor checked its swing. And suddenly all
eight of its propulsion-tubes began to emit furious blasts
Compare to turnover from Off the Beam (1944) by George O. Smith and skew-flip turnover from Have Space Suit - Will Travel (1958) by Robert Heinlein.
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