An escape pod (also known as a life pod or life boat) is a small craft which allows crewmembers to evacuate a vessel or spaceborn facility in case of emergency. While escape pods come in many forms and sizes, they typically share the following characteristics:
- A life support system, rations, and medical supplies to sustain the passengers until help arrives
- A radio beacon or other communications system to send distress signals
- A propulsion system to allow the escape pod to escape a hazardous area or make planetfall (if the pod is capable of atmospheric re-entry)
- In Star Wars, R2-D2 and C-3PO escaped from the Tantive IV in one of it's escape pods.
- In Babylon 5, the cockpit of a Starfury fightercraft functions as an escape pod to allow the pilot to jettison in case of catastrophic damage.
- In Stargate SG-1, the Prometheus is equipped with escape pods.
- In Star Trek, virtually all capital ships are equipped with escape pods.
- A Russian Soyuz space capsule is docked with the International Space Station for use as an escape pod.
- In Mass Effect 2, most of the crew of the crippled Normandy SR-1 evacuated in escape pods.