Standard throughout Imperial Space and beyond, these inflatable 'balls' have saved many lives and consist of a plastic cylinder 5 cm in diameter and 10 cm long. When deployed it forms a sphere one meter in diameter and contains air supply sufficient to last one occupant up to two hours. A rescue ball allows an individual not in possession of a vacc suit to survive long enough to be rescued by nearby ships in the event of explosive decompression. The user pulls a lanyard, climbs inside and seals the zip closure, causing the ball to trap any air and begin the process of inflating.
The ball is metal-coated plastic film for ease of location by radar/active ems and contains a bottle of compressed air (normally pure oxygen at very low pressure to avoid causing oxygen poisoning). Slightly larger versions contain a first aid kit. All balls have one or more transparent windows so that the occupant can observe conditions outside the ball.
Rescue balls have been known to provide some protection from stellar radiation and corrosive and insidious atmospheres for anything up to seven hours (long after the occupant has died due to the limitations of the oxygen supply).
Rescue balls are routinely available from TL-7 weigh 5kg and typically cost Cr150 and have a volume of 1 litre.
Data Source: MegaTraveller Imperial Encyclopaedia Page 52.
Adapted for (T20 to T4 Starships) By Mark Bridgeman.
An ideal emergency device for long range, deep space ships, not common but ideally suited to larger destroyer class ships or battle cruisers, that have room to spare. Rescue pods are not suited to small mercantile vessels due to their cost and volume of space that they require though they are occasionally found on large liners.
The rescue pod is in all respects a miniature space vessel that contains a spacecraft sized computer, commo and basic avionics suite. The pod also contains three emergency low berths capable of supporting up to 12 humanoid shaped beings, a small fusion reactor with enough fuel to last 20 weeks at maximum output or 40 weeks at minimum, coupled with a back engineered tl-9 M-drive, rated at 1g.
The pod's avionics suite is rather basic for this type of hull frame and configuration and needless to say most pilots would find it sluggish or unresponsive in an atmosphere if they had to fly it themselves; fortunately they are not required to as the pod is fully automated and does not even have manual controls (just a small computer interface panel for a data-link or connection to a hand computer) as all passengers would be in low berths for the duration of the trip, so the avionics whilst far from perfect are in this case adequate (-1 penalty in atmosphere).
It is often said that atmospheric performance could be improved with the inclusion of a more advanced computer & avionics subsystem but increase in cost when compared to the relatively small gain to be had makes this a moot point for a limited use vehicle.
The remainder of the pod's interior is taken up by a small cargo hold that contains survival rations and first aid kits, along with some room for useful devices such as small communicators and survey equipment (inertial locators, map boxes), defensive weaponry, (hand guns, blades, ammo), filter masks and fusion stills etc, (price not included as this can vary according to the owners preference).
This vessel, whilst expensive is extremely useful, as a single rescue pod could hold the entire crew and all passengers typically found aboard an Imperial Free Trader (4 crew & 8 passengers), though needless to say any low berth passengers are not included in this total as during an emergency there typically isn't enough time to revive them and get them into the pod in any case.
Standard operations for the pod is to blast away from a distressed vessel and depending on circumstances either float off, in an attempt to fool the attackers into thinking it is a piece of debris or alternatively activating its drive and moving away from the scene at high speed. Its basic sensor suite, though weak is sufficient to detect and classify emissions/signals and allow its automated computer core to create a generally accurate assessment of its location and hence do an honest job of plotting courses and make best speed to safe locations.
Depending upon the computer's assessment of the situation the commo suite will either broadcast a distress signal on all frequencies in order to attract rescue or remain silent until the threat is gone or its sensors pick up a recognisable signal/transponder squawk from any nearby craft. It is also programmed to respond to any hails/signals or transponder interrogations from allied naval vessels or dedicated rescue ships.
In the absence of any signals the pods computer will use the sensor array to scan the system and identify any locations that might allow its occupants to live, such as habitable worlds or even distant outposts, before journeying towards them. Once the pod arrives at the selected world, it will typically begin atmospheric insertion after having pre-selected a temperate landing site, that's (for that world) not too hot or too cold, and with the most natural resources around it, again in order to further boost chances of survival.
In the absence of a breathable atmospheric mix, the pod will stay in orbit seeking to make maximum use of its fuel and await rescue/pickup or in the case of some versions, unfurl solar panels to support the low berths whilst the reactor shuts down to conserve fuel.
Civilian versions of the pod have the panels mounted as an array of tiles on the pod's hull to allow sunlight to be collected from any direction, though these often burn away during atmospheric insertion.
Higher tech versions of this pod sometimes mount fuel scoops, and a hardened reactor core capable of using unrefined fuel, so that pods can even dip or skim fuel themselves and hence continue to support the low berths indefinitely or until mechanical failure occurs.
The low berths themselves are fully sealed so entering the pod whilst in vacuum will do no harm to its occupants, though any attempt to open a low berth definitely would.
Whilst on the ground, the awakened occupants can use the onboard commo as a rescue beacon and access the sensor array to scan for ships in orbit as long as there is power.
The pod's powerful computer system can easily be adapted to other uses, such as being transplanted into a larger vehicle to replace a battle damaged or faulty computer. During routine operations, the pod is normally data linked to the parent vessel, so that should an emergency occur the entire contents of the parent craft's computer can be copied and dumped to the onboard memory storage in order to preserve useful information (jump, generate, gunnery programs etc), navigational data, ship accounts, details of trade/exploratory routes, ship's log entries and any other useful data such as policy details of any salvage insurance applicable and other niceties such as details of the last known location of the parent craft
In summary the rescue pod is expensive, incredibly useful and offers the maximum chances of survival to any distressed space farer. There are moves afoot in the Imperium to make pods such as this compulsory for all Imperial shipping, though this seems unlikely to succeed as many independent ship owners, cant afford either their cost or the volume they take up.
Class: Life Raft Ep Output: 0.10 Tech Level: 9 Agility: -1 Size: (Tiny 5 Tons) Initiative: 0 Streamlining: Streamlined. AC: 11 Jump Range: None Repulsors: None Acceleration 1G (Thruster) Nuclear Dampers: None Fuel 0.5 Tons (liquid Hydrogen) Meson Screens: None Duration: 20-40 weeks Black Globes: None Crew: 0 (automated life raft) AR: 0 Staterooms: none SI: 60 Small Cabins: none Main Computer: Model 1 Bunks: 0 Sensor Range: Close (model 1) Couches: 0 Comm. Range: Close (model 1) Low Berths: 3 (emergency) Cargo Space: 0.25 Tons Cost: Mcr 3.45 (Mcr 2.76 in Quantity) Atmospheric speeds Noe= 275 kph Cruising = 825 kph Maximum = 1100 kph Other Equipment: (survival gear as desired)
Installed Component Tonnage (MCR) Ep Notes. Hull +5 0.3 ---- Close Structure Upgrade Streamlining ---- 0.25 ---- Fully Streamlined Bridge Controls ---- ---- ---- Not Required Computer 0.1 2.0 ---- Model 1 Avionics 0.4 (0.9) ---- Model 1 (1 agility penalty) Sensors 0.3 (0.6) ---- Model 1 Commo 0.2 (0.5) ---- Model 1 M-Drive 0.1 0.15 -0.05 1G Thruster Power Plant 0.15 0.45 +0.10 Fusion Fuel 20-40 weeks 0.5 ---- ---- Liquid Hydrogen Emergency Low Berths 3.0 0.3 ---- 12 passengers. Cargo 0.25 ---- ---- Survival Cache Totals 5.0 3.45 0.05 Excess Power = 0.05 EP.
Original T4 Design: Not Credited.
Design Re-worked for T20, by Mark Bridgeman.