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"We follow the scientists around and look over their shoulders. They're watching their feet: provable mistakes are bad for them. We're looking as far ahead as we can, and we don't get penalized for mistakes."
- Larry Niven

Emergency Lifeboat  
  A small craft used as a bail-out vehicle from a large space station or spacecraft.  

Then, each grasping Clio by an arm, the two officers shoved mightily with their feet, and the three armored forms darted away toward their only hope of escape - an emergency lifeboat that could be launched through the shell of the great globe. To attempt to reach the Hyperion and to escape in one of her lifeboats would have been useless; they could not have forced the great gates of the main airlocks and no other exits existed.
From Triplanetary, by E.E. 'Doc' Smith.
Published by Not known in 1934
Additional resources -

There are other, earlier references in sf to a "lifeship" that serves this same purpose. In 1946, John MacDougal wrote about it in "Chaos, Coordinated"; there is an even earlier mention in 1940, from Harry Walton's "Moon of Exile".

Take a look at Larry Niven's crash web to protect yourself from deceleration trauma.

Compare to the escapecraft from The Ethical Equations (1945) by Murray Leinster, the emergency space-boat from Revolt of the Star Men (1932) by Raymond Z. Gallun, the escape pod from Star Wars (1976) by George Lucas, the survival bubble from Footfall (1985) by Niven & Pournelle, the life tubes from Salvage in Space (1933) by Jack Williamson and the life ship from The Invisible World by Ed Earl Repp.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Triplanetary
  More Ideas and Technology by E.E. 'Doc' Smith
  Tech news articles related to Triplanetary
  Tech news articles related to works by E.E. 'Doc' Smith

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