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"Modern science fiction is the only form of literature that consistently considers the nature of the changes that face us, the possible consequences, and the possible solutions."
- Isaac Asimov

Life Boat  
  A small space-worthy craft that can be jettisoned from a larger ship, to save its crew.  

In the wall nearest the hull was an air seal. He opened this. In the tiny chamber revealed rested a small ellipsoid metal object with a bulge of steel-glass on its top surface — the “life boat.”

Due to the constant dangers of meteors in space which might at any moment crash through an ether boat, each space vehicle carried one or more of the life boats. They were simply little one-man ether boats, miniature models of the larger craft, equipped with small but efficient rocket motors. If for any reason the larger boat became unmanageable, damaged, or useless as a vehicle, the passenger could then embark in the life boat and propel himself within reach of rescue. Each life boat was equipped with a radio. They also carried food, oxygen, and heating apparatus.

Hanson, holding the little man in his arms, smirked as he saw the dull metal ellipsoid boat, for it entered his plans of the moment. On its side was emblazoned the same number as was on the outside hull of the bigger boat — P-322-M-505.

From Murder on the Asteroid, by Eando Binder.
Published by Wonder Stories in 1933
Additional resources -

Doc Smith used this phrase just a year later in Triplanetary:

Through the airlock, down through several levels of passenger's quarters they hurried, and into a lifeboat.

Compare this very early use of the concept with a more famous descendant, the escape pod from George Lucas' 1976 story Star Wars.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Murder on the Asteroid
  More Ideas and Technology by Eando Binder
  Tech news articles related to Murder on the Asteroid
  Tech news articles related to works by Eando Binder

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