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"A good science fiction story should be able to predict not the automobile but the traffic jam."
- Frederik Pohl

Asteroid Nets  
  Capturing small asteroids or fragments using rocket nets.  

They might as well be stars, for all the progress he had made with them. He had been here a week, spreading his nets for asteroid fragments like the rest of them, and never a sign of his presence had they shown. They hung there, cold and aloof—almost suspicious, he would have thought, had they any reason to be suspicious.

Not that they were unfriendly by nature, these men who spread their nets to trap the errant meteors; but they were a clannish tribe, known to one another from season to season, more snobbish than any social ruling class. They were close-knit, bound together by bonds of danger and hazard, and the dream of sudden wealth.

Through the left lower quadrant of the transparent nose he saw one of the nets flare into quick acceleration. It was too far away to be his own, and he watched it, each corner of the net a flaming ribbon of rocket fire in the velvet black of space.

A moment later he knew whose net it was, for the mining ship Fleetblast slid by him in pursuit, controlling the rocket-powered net from the remote controls in her maw. The Fleetblast sped on, unable to equal the instant acceleration that the touch of the meteor sent into the rockets of the net.

But she was soon catching up. With her remote controls she was slowing the rockets of the net, as she increased her own speed. In a few minutes both ship and netted meteor would be hanging motionless alongside, the meteor caught and halted just as a small boy catches a swift ball in his cap.

From Asteroid Justice, by V.E. Thiessen.
Published by Planet Stories in 1947
Additional resources -

Great descriptive prose makes this a fine story:

Before the Aeries her net spurted four ribbons of flame. In a surge of power the Aeries was off, acceleration full, straining like a hound after a rabbit. There would be no more conversation from the Aeries, Sam knew, until the catch was landed.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Asteroid Justice
  More Ideas and Technology by V.E. Thiessen
  Tech news articles related to Asteroid Justice
  Tech news articles related to works by V.E. Thiessen

Asteroid Nets-related news articles:
  - Capture Asteroids In A Bag

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