“Escape Pods” for Astronauts in Distress

“Escape Pods” have been a fixture on spaceships and space stations in science fiction for many years but real world spacecraft have always assumed the crew will return from space in the ship, not escape from it. (The Vostok, Gemini, and early Space Shuttle test flights had ejection seats, but these could only be used in the atmosphere for a small part of the flight profile.)

There have been, however, numerous schemes to rescue astronauts, some of which got as far as building test hardware. From the MOOSE (Man Out Of Space Easiest) one-man orbital bail-out scheme to the X-38 Crew Return Vehicle, none has made the cut and actually been developed and deployed.