"Science and science fiction, how do you even distinguish the two?"
This is a very early use of the term "escape pod."
There were a variety of early approaches to this idea - see spacecraft rescue for more details about these programs. Also, Werner von Braun also worked on escape pod designs in the 1960's. Also compare to the Survival Bubble (Beach Ball) from Footfall (1985) by Larry Niven (w/J. Pournelle).
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