3

I read this book when I was a kid and the last chapter had been ripped out - it's always bugged me. Anyway, the part I remember is there's this teenaged kid (an orphan maybe?) and he's taken in by an interplanetary trading ship. The ship is only equipped with slower-than-light missiles and has to run through pirate-infested space. The pirates use some kind of beam weapon to knock trading ships unconscious and then board and strip them. He's trained as a missile targeter who launches missiles to intercept the pirate - which he does successfully on one occasion.

Not much to go on, but I thought I'd ask

11

This would almost certainly be Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy.

The protagonist worked for a beggar in the streets when very young, gets adopted by the trading fleet at his mentor's posthumous request, learns that he is the orphan of a rich family, hooks up with a space-going military unit for eventual return to the Earth (but works in the service along the way) and there meets with a financial/political intrigue attempting to deny him full access to his inheritance.

Finally,

he proposes to fight the pirates his Earth-family have been funding with his business position and is reactivated as a covert operative with orders to remain in charge of his business empire.

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