So in my story, a spaceship populated with about 250 people has reached its destination, an Earth-like planet. It's uninhabited, and consider the weather is just typical, sunny-day with a slight breeze.

Would it be safer to use a communal pod, which contain up to 25 people each, or a single-person pod? Considering the facts that there might be malfunctions, or that some freak wind might blow them off course. They're heading for a general area, so it doesn't have to be exact on where they land.

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    $\begingroup$ Hello and welcome. Your question now is really broad. Most questions that ask for a list with minimal requirements are closed. Can you please define how are you measuring "efficiency"? And what are conditions down there? Military invasion in the storm would be totally different from scouting uninhabited planet in perfect weather, for example. Imagining all possible options is next to impossible. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Oct 21 '18 at 18:04
  • $\begingroup$ You're right. I'm sorry, I haven't had much experience in asking questions. I hope my edit clears things up a little. $\endgroup$ – SpaceGal Oct 21 '18 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ For what it's worth, downvote was not from me. Should we assume tech level like "now, and what we can reasonably expect soon"? If yes, I might have an answer. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Oct 21 '18 at 18:32
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. I don't really care about the down vote, and you were right on me needing to improve the question. And, yes, the tech level is around where we're at currently. $\endgroup$ – SpaceGal Oct 22 '18 at 23:23

I would go with commmunal pods, just out of financial and space efficiency. Consider the difference between 250 individual cars, and ten buses. Most city buses have 55 seats; you could have just 5 communal pods.

If there is a chance of being blown off course, it is better to have 50 people with you than to be stuck in the wilderness alone, and a larger communal pod could have much more powerful equipment for communications, navigation, engines, backup systems, and even life support, shelter and an emergency medical facility than I'd expect to find in individual pods.

You can also use the larger communal pods more efficiently for transporting supplies and equipment, food and such. And leave a few on the ground as tough and secure armored emergency shelters; since no telling what the weather might do or how dangerous the native life (including bacterial, viral, or fungal) may turn out to be.

You get some economies of scale using the larger pods, and they can be safer as well; just as a 747 is safer than a small two-seater airplane, especially in bad weather.


Depends on the available technology.

  • As Amadeus pointed out, communal pods will likely have some efficiency of scale. You need just one communications suite, one navigation suite, one set of computers, etc. Also fewer square metres of surface (to be sealed, heat-shielded, ...) per occupant.
  • Depending on how you plan to brake, smaller pods might benefit from their worse area-to-mass ratio. They might make better gliders on final approach than a big pod.
  • If you have "magical" drive technology comparable to Star Trek or Star Wars, the pods could remain useful after the initial landing. In that case, more smaller ones could be helpful for the development of the colony.

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