"In space, nobody can see you die"
Well, theoretically you can be seen on somebody's sensors, but that's not the point. Escape pods are necessary for one's survival in space. No starship is designed without them, and no sensible crew leaves port without inspecting theirs. Generally, after an accident in space (or an attack) your vessel might be falling apart, engulfed in plasma fire - or reactor core leaking deadly doses of radiation. What is left of the crew and passengers, must have the means of escaping the craft with their lives and survive. Escape pods are one of the ways you can leave your doomed vessel and reach a safe haven. The others are: spacewalking, boarding another ship or flying away on one of the ship's shuttlecraft. Obviously, you won't be safe floating aimlessly around, your only protection being a simple spacesuit. Also, not everyone can fit into the shuttles, as most starship evacuation plans do not include that as an option. Your shuttlecraft, ideally, would fly together with the escape pods, providing assistance if necessary. Escape pods on most craft are designed to hold and provide life support from three to four people. It has but a rudimentary sensor array, a comms unit, and simple engine controls. The hull though is sturdy and offers protection from radiation and extreme heat. Pods also have a good stock of space rations and in some cases even survival gear.
Starships have escape pod hatches clearly marked, accessible and seemingly close to areas where most of the crew/passengers would congregate. This is to ensure that in case of an emergency most of the ship's occupants could easily reach and board an escape pod. The pods have also been used for thousands of years by all galactic navies to deploy soldiers on planetary bodies during battle. Those "single seaters" are often used to deploy special operators or other important personnel to a war zone without risking the use of the easily noticed dropships or a shuttle. Military pods are crafted by stealth composites and their minuscule size often conceals them from enemy sensors. Some combat pods are even equipped with portable weapons or designed to be disassembled and construct portable bunkers.
Once again the Terrans defy the "natural order of things". Terran Spacers have their own, unique use of escape pods, now deeply ingrained into their culture. The tradition to hold "Death Races" was established as a contest to prove whose piloting, gunnery, and spaceship crafting skills were superior. Spacer racing teams are deployed in the midst of an already raging battle, or seek the battle themselves. Teams consist of two. One is in a fighter and the other - in a heavily modified racing pod. The pod has armor-plating, a single, fixed weapon mount, and supercharged engines. Its pilot is almost always an unproven spacer, someone who wishes to test themselves or reach another level of skill by passing a trial of extreme combat. The fighter pilot is an ace, one of the best flyers that this clan has. His or her job is to provide cover for his teammate in the pod and take out any fighter greedy enough to take the bait. In most instances when Spacers start a Death Race, whatever pirates or other scum they race through, quickly retreat. This, in recent years, has prompted many Spacer clans to construct and field special FTL interdictor ships to prevent that.
The very knowledge that a bunch of unruly, insanely good pilots would jump straight into a raging battle and start shooting down your fighter or bomber craft just to rack more "points", had made all of the Fringe Star states increasingly wary. This has led to attempts by either pirate clans, criminal syndicates or other empires to try and devise clever traps, in a futile effort to destroy the Death Races within their space.
Please check @Mister_Brushface and his channel. He gives voice to my words and has recorded many of my spaceship blogs:
This is a new series of blogs that I decided to write, inspired by my sci-fi universe. If you liked this blog and crave more, check out my books published on Amazon here: