The escape capsule of a Royal Australian Air ForceF-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, lifepod or Cosmopod, is a capsule or craft used to escape from 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, but infrequently used in real vehicles such as supersonic aircraft.
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 SovietMike-classsubmarine had an escape capsule, which was jettisoned upon its sinking in 1989. Some Soviet submarines like the Oscar-classsubmarines 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-classsubmarine 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.
In the 1966 film Thunderbirds Are Go, the Zero-X spacecraft features an escape pod, referred to in the movie as an 'Escape Unit', capable of evacuating the Zero-X's five man crew in one go in case of a serious emergency.
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 Skroob tries to leave on the last one but finds it already occupied by a bear.
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 spacecraft Dorian Gray on a one-person escape pod.
In the 2017 video game Subnautica, the player escapes the Aurora using an escape pod at the beginning of the game. These two-person "lifepods" are demonstrated in-game to have essential supplies such as food, water, medical kits, a radio, and a crafting device.
In the 2017 video game Prey, the player can try to escape Talos I with the help of two escape pods: the one above the Alex Yu's office and the other which is one of the few pods that can be repaired. However, both the pods fail after initiation of the escape process and Morgan Yu dies requiring the player to start over.
In the Star Trek universe, every ship in Starfleet is equipped with escape pods.
In the 2018 film Bumblebee, escape pods are used by the Autobots to escape the planet Cybertron, as they are scattered across the galaxy before joining Bumblebee to arrive on Earth.
In the 2018 film Incredibles 2, The Underminer uses an escape pod to flee with his spoils after robbing a bank vault. The pod is a miniaturised version of his subterrene, tipped with a drill.