A Tractor Beam is a fictional device used in many science fiction stories. Used primarily on starships, tractor beams "grab" onto escaping ships or for that matter any kind of object in space or in atmosphere and pull them towards the person operating the beam, hence "tractoring". The idea behind tractor beams is that they somehow grab hold of matter and are able move it around at will.

Tractor beams are used in Star Trek, Star Wars and just about any major SF story. Tractor beams don't exist per se, but are probably more or less possible, the concept being more or less allowed within physical laws.

Another Nodeshell Rescue!

The tractor beam is pretty much a soft SF technology; even if such a device were used in hard SF, it would probably be referred to in more descriptive terms (i.e. a graviton stream or somesuch, though Bob knows there've been enough of those in Star Trek). IIRC, tractor beams as portrayed in the Trek universe are capable not only of pushing and pulling, but also dragging from side to side, which is particularly unlikely as forces in the real world tend either to attract or repel.

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