I read this story more than 40 years ago, but I think it was already old at that time.

There was a shipwreck near a very small celestial body, with very low gravity. The survivors wanted to fall on that body, because there was a small but permanently manned station there and they would get help. But because of the low gravity, the damaged ship did not fall, but stayed in orbit. But even though the ship's systems are dead, the survivors find a roundabout trick to push the ship into that body, slowly enough for them to survive the crash and they do get help in the end.


1 Answer 1


"Marooned off Vesta", a short story by Isaac Asimov (his first published story); first published in Amazing Stories, March 1939, available at the Internet Archive; the reprint in Amazing Science Fiction Stories, March 1959 is also available at the Internet Archive. You may have read it in one of these compilations. A French translation by Michel Deutsch was titled "Au large de Vesta".

Plot summary from Wikipedia:

"Marooned off Vesta" tells the story of three men who survive the wreck of the spaceship Silver Queen in the asteroid belt and find themselves trapped in orbit around the asteroid of Vesta. They have at their disposal three airtight rooms, one spacesuit, three days' worth of air, a week's supply of food, and a year's supply of water. They are initially despondent about their impending suffocation until one of the men is inspired to melt a hole in the water tank. This begins to propel them towards Vesta, where a small community of humans lives.

  • 1
    Nice! I knew it was the water tank, but I was blocking on the name of the asteroid.
    – DavidW
    Dec 6, 2021 at 1:16
  • Yes indeed, it does match everything I remember : melting a hole in the water tank does strike me as familiar. It has been reprinted quite often, I see... Thanks.
    – Alfred
    Dec 6, 2021 at 3:47
  • @Alfred You're welcome.
    – user14111
    Dec 6, 2021 at 4:06

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