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"[Science fiction is] nightmares and visions, always outlined by the barely possible."
- Gregory Benford

Acceleration-tank  
  A water-filled tank used to ease the strains of acceleration.  

The ship was a tremendous flying wing. A standard commercial job. Empty - passengers, even crewmen, were never subject to the brutal accelerations regularly used by unmanned carriers. Phryges scanned the panel. Tiny motors were pulling tapes through the controllers. Every light showed green. Everything was set. Donning a water-proof coverall, he slid through a flexible valve into his acceleration-tank and waited. A siren yelled briefly. Black night turned blinding white as the harnessed energies of the atom were released. For five and six-tenths seconds the sharp, hard, beryllium-bronze leading edge o fthe back-sweeping V sliced its way through ever-thinning air. The hellish vibration ceased; the fantastic violence of the drive subsided to a mere shove; Phryges knew that the vessel had leveled off at its cruising speed of two thousand miles per hour. He emerged, spilling the least possible amount of water upon the polished steel floor. He took off his coverall and stuffed it back through the valve into the tank.
From Triplanetary, by E.E. 'Doc' Smith.
Published by Not known in 1934
Additional resources -

The idea also appears in Heinlein's earlier novels Beyond This Horizon (1942) and Double Star (1956 - see the entry for the space-going cider press).

The basic idea of using water to cushion an individual in a spacecraft was probably first used by E.E. "Doc" Smith in his 1934 novel Triplanetary (see the entry for acceleration tank). See also the inertia tank from Masson's Secret (1939) by Raymond Z. Gallun.

However, if you really want to look at water as a means of cushioning acceleration during space flight, see Jules Verne's 1867 novel From the Earth to the Moon; he equips the projectile (that is, the space "capsule") with water-springs.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Triplanetary
  More Ideas and Technology by E.E. 'Doc' Smith
  Tech news articles related to Triplanetary
  Tech news articles related to works by E.E. 'Doc' Smith

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