Escape pod

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The escape capsule of a Royal Australian Air Force F-111. This capsule saved the lives of the two aircrew when the aircraft crashed in October 1978. Australian War Memorial, 2007

An escape pod, escape capsule, life capsule or lifepod is a capsule or craft used to escape a vessel in an emergency, usually only big enough for one person. An escape ship is a larger, more complete craft also used for the same purpose. Escape pods are ubiquitous in science fiction,[1] but infrequently used in real vehicles such as supersonic aircraft.

Real life[edit]

  • Because they were intended to fly too high and fast for safe use of conventional ejection seats, the Bell X-2, B-58 Hustler, XB-70 Valkyrie, and B‑1A Lancer all used enclosed escape crew capsules of some kind.
  • Although not designed or intended as one, Apollo 13 used the Lunar Module (LM) as a lifeboat when the service module suffered an explosion causing the command module to have to be shut down. The three man crew lived for an extended period in the two man LM and even used the LM's engine to realign the trajectory of the entire vehicle. The crew exited the LM "lifeboat" shortly before re-entry, jettisoning it and using up the last power and O2 in the command module that they had saved by using the LM.
  • The single Soviet Mike-class submarine had an escape capsule, which was jettisoned upon its sinking in 1989. Some Soviet submarines like the Oscar-class submarines are rumoured to have escape capsules for the crew. (In the sinking of the Kursk the crew was unable to reach the capsule.) However, the Typhoon-class submarine is also rumoured to have escape pods located near or about the sail. Evidence for this can be found in a German documentary on the Typhoon-class submarine Severstal.

Fiction[edit]

  • Air Force One is shown as being equipped with a one-person escape pod for emergency use by the President of the United States in at least four films, Escape from New York, Air Force One, Bermuda Tentacles and Big Game. The actual Air Force One does not have an escape pod.[2][3]
  • Many spacecraft in Star Wars are equipped with escape pods. A notable appearance is in the first Star Wars film, in which an escape pod is used by R2-D2 and C-3PO.
  • Spaceball One, the enormous spacecraft featured in the 1987 science fiction parody film Spaceballs, is seen to be equipped with one-person escape pods. Dark Helmet is kicked out of one by the Bearded Lady (even though the doorway to the pod was designed in the shape of his helmet, signifying the pod was intended for his use), and President Scroob tries to leave on the last one but finds it already occupied by a bear.
  • In the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero comic books, the Joes' underground base, the Pit, had an escape pod in the form of a drill tank. Similar drill tanks (named Mole Pods) would appear in the 2009 movie G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, but for the reverse purpose - to invade the Pit.
  • In the 2008 science fiction film WALL-E, the BNL starliner Axiom is depicted as having numerous 6-person escape pods aboard. These pods are able to deploy a parachute, inflate a raft on their underside in case of a water landing, and deploy flares. They also have artificial gravity through some means, as indicated by WALL-E not floating weightlessly even after the pod he is in is well away from the Axiom. Strangely for vehicles designed to keep its occupants alive, the Axiom's escape pods are also demonstrated to have a self-destruct sequence included.
  • Capital ships of the United Nations Space Command (UNSC) in the Halo video game series are shown to feature 9-person escape pods; in the first mission of Halo: Combat Evolved, first game in the series, the Master Chief leaves the UNSC Pillar of Autumn on an escape pod.
  • In the 2010 video game Mass Effect 2, the SSV Normandy is heavily damaged in a Collector surprise attack at the beginning of the game, prompting the crew to abandon ship aboard multi-person escape pods. Most, but not all, of the crew makes it to the pods before Normandy is destroyed and are later picked up by the Systems Alliance Navy.
  • In the 2004 video game Unreal II: The Awakening, main character John Dalton completes the final mission of the game by abandoning the spaceship Dorian Gray on a one-person escape pod.

See also[edit]

References[edit]