What would be carried on an escape pod or group lifeboat in the far future as standard equipment? I came up with this list for the Deeps of Lyrae campaign in part based on the idea that many things might be worth including even if they didn’t turn out to be useful in very many situations — perhaps because in the future they would be so cheap.
This loadout is intended for humans. I’ve made different decisions than those in the Pyramid #3/18 article about Life Pod equipment, but that was an inspiration. (You should buy that issue of Pyramid, it’s great.) Thanks to this Quora post for additional ideas. A bunch of this equipment comes from the book GURPS Ultra-Tech.
Here is the manifest for what would be carried on e.g., the Econo-Liberator lifeboat design posted earlier, or on an escape pod. (Note that escape pods were not included in the GURPS Spaceships text, but a 4-person SM+2 “Life Pod” does appear in the designer’s notes for the book, so it looks like they were cut for space.)
Everything is rubberized, plastic, and bright orange with reflective strips wherever applicable.
- Survival eBook — I picture this as being on a kind of cheap disposable kindle with no back light (I got the idea from GURPS Classic Traveller Far Trader p. 69 – this eBook would include extensive survival manuals)
- Basic First Aid Kit
- Survival drugs: Analgine, Antirad, Hyperstim, Morphazine, and Soothe (see GURPS Ultra-Tech, p. 205)
- Heavy Flashlight
- Solar Charging Panel (for electronics)
- Magnetic Compass
- Inertial Compass
- Terrestrial Homing Beacon
- Radiation Sensor
- Rope, 40 yards
- Survival Module (self-inflating tent – see GURPS Ultra-Tech)
- Civilian Survival Jumpsuit (bright orange, one-size-fits-all-very-poorly via elastic and straps that can be tightened)
- Envirobag — an emergency insulated sleeping bag that can pack down to be extremely small.
- Reflectorized Tarpaulin
- 1 package of 6 Chemical Lights (Glow Sticks)
- Survival Knife
- Fishing line
- Small IR/visual signal Mirror
- A safety whistle
- Inflatable life jacket
- 8 x 9 quart plastic boxes of water
- this is a 36-day supply of water for one personthis is by far the bulkiest item in the list; when the boxes are stacked it makes up a cube a little over two feet per side.
- Concentrated nutrient paste rations, 30-days supply
- Reducing/Concentrating Switchable Respirator and Filter Combination
- bright orange
- includes polarizing (sun shade) goggles
- runs on one C cell
- makes unbreathable atmospheres breathable if they have too little oxygen (effective for one month use) or too much oxygen (10 days use).
- acts as contaminant filter (including pollens, some noxious gases) — effectiveness varies by atmosphere: this item will last longer if it does not have to filter heavy contaminants
- attaches to survival suit if necessary
On Larger Lifeboats
Escape pods might be only for one person. In that case, use just the above. However, higher-quality escape pods or lifeboats meant for a group of people would add:
- More pharmaceuticals
- Larger (group) tent
- A water filtration device
- Inflatable life raft
- Larger, better medical kit (Crash Kit)
- Surgical Instruments
- One set of PESA Binoculars
- A very basic tool set adaptable for a variety of skills. Treat as though this were a series of mini-toolkits providing -2 equipment quality for Armoury, Electrician, Mechanic, Machinist, and Electronics Repair, although it is actually one normal-sized portable tool kit (10 lbs.).
- A mattock or pick axe
- A folding shovel
- A self-contained disposable cutting torch with a limited amount of built-in fuel (this can be used to disassemble and use parts of the escape pod or lifeboat hull if necessary)
- Handheld emergency radios for local, inter-party communication
- A handheld megaphone (on lifeboats with 15+ passengers only)
The lifeboat itself contains the following that can be used/salvaged
- Atmosphere sensor/analyzer (automatic) — usually built into the wall next to the hatch, or mounted with a display visible from the hibernation berth viewport on a solo pod.
- Life support for a limited amount of time (intended for use until the door opens, as there is usually no airlock) — typically 24 hours
- Cryogenic Emergency Hibernation Berth
- Onboard Radio Transponder / Distress Signal (automatically activated)
- Onboard emergency radio – can communicate with mothership or other escape pod
- The pod’s soft-landing system may contain parachute or airbag material that can be salvaged
When Will This Equipment Be Used?
Obviously if crash-landed on an hostile planet none of this might be useful as there might be no air, no fish, no oceans, no water, etc. Escape pods and lifeboats would be designed to float, and the above listed rafts/life jackets would be intended as supplements, or to be used if a lifeboat was sinking due to (e.g.,) crash damage.
The default programming for an escape pod would likely put the disaster victim into suspended animation indefinitely until revived from outside or until the suspended animation berth’s power failed. This equipment would only be useful after the occupant woke up.
In GURPS Ultra-Tech it states that the power for a suspended animation berth would run out after 10 years. This is in conflict with the Traveller universe where “low berths” can operate without ship’s power for only “about one day.” In my setting (because I love the Alien movie franchise) I am going to follow the GURPS Ultra-Tech rule allowing long hibernation at low power. It is conceivable that a solar panel on the exterior of an escape pod might even provide hundreds of years of power.
In the Traveller universe reviving someone from suspended animation is risky unless it is medically supervised. I do like that rule, as it makes revivals exciting. GURPS Traveller Interstellar Wars states that unsupervised revivals require a roll at HT+6, any failure results in death.
(Image coda: The Grainger MobileAid very large first aid kit.)