For those of you who came here looking for the term's idiomatic meaning, that's a Cloud Cuckoo Lander
As for actual space cadets:
A Discredited Trope
from the early Pulp Magazine
days of media science fiction (peaked in the 1950's in movie serials and TV shows), involving a hero who was part of an organization that handles law and order in outer space, much like in a Western... in space
. Frequently the titular Space Cadet
was a child or teen who was a new recruit or a sidekick to an older hero
. May be the equivalent of Walking the Earth
with isolated outposts and frontier planets; especially strange when the Kid Hero
seems not to have a family at home. His training place would be the Space Cadet Academy
For the Robert A. Heinlein
novel, see Space Cadet
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Anime and Manga
- Space Cadet: Robert A. Heinlein novel, best known for its opening pages being so prophetic as to not read like Science Fiction today.
- His earlier story Misfit also fits the trope, and makes the inspiration from the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps more explicit.
- Tom Corbett, Space Cadet (based on the novel)
- The Lucky Starr series of books by Isaac Asimov, which started with David Starr, Space Ranger.
- Jeff Wells of Isaac and Janet Asimov's Norby series is also technically a space cadet, although most of his adventures are unofficial ones.
- Various midshipmen throughout David Weber's Honor Harrington stories, including Harrington herself in the novella "Ms. Midshipwoman Harrington".
- The Scott Saunders Space Adventure series by Patrick Moore.
Live Action TV
- Space Patrol (1950's radio and TV)
- Captain Video and his Video Rangers
- Rocky Jones, Space Ranger
- Rod Brown of the Rocket Rangers
- Wesley Crusher represents the best example in the Star Trek universe. As a child prodigy, he represented an Audience Surrogate for a young viewer and could be considered a "sidekick" to Picard. Later in the series, Wesley became a literal cadet in Starfleet. Harry Kim is the closest example in Star Trek: Voyager, while "Red Squad" in Deep Space Nine is something of a Deconstruction of the trope.
- Nog becomes a cadet in Season 3 of DS9 before his Rank Up to Ensign.
- Son of Cliché with their sci-fi spoof "Dave Hollis: Space Cadet". Some of the gags were later reused in Red Dwarf.