A Single Occupant Atmospheric Insertion Vehicle or SOAIV is a small pod used by the Remsian Republic to deploy an individual from high orbit to the ground. SOAIV's allowed for the rapid deployment of ground assault troops near or right onto an objective. Their smaller profiles made them more difficult to destroy by defensive fire than conventional dropships. The large number of pods dropped at once also increased the probability of some of the attack force surviving to the land. Each pod bore the service number of the individual inside; amongst other things this identification could be used to identify the unfortunate occupant of a destroyed pod.
Marine doctrine required the command unit of an SOAIV-facilitated assault to land first to minimize the period of disorder that might occur as pods landed and soldiers deployed. Command unit SOAIVs were equipped with additional features, including high-powered imaging gear and the Class C military AI (Such as Beowulf) required to operate it.
The SOAIV is an angular pod, approximately eighteen (18) feet tall, eight and a half (8.5) feet wide, and nine (9) feet deep with an entry hatch on one side. Within it is a crash seat, communications gear, numerous equipment racks, and a rudimentary control system. In spite of the size of the pod, there is not much room to move around, as the space given over to equipment storage lines the interior attached to the frame. It is made of Durasteel-Titanium-A foil, and a ceramic skin. The skin burns away during atmospheric reentry, protecting the rest of the pod and its occupant from the worst of the considerable heat. The Foil is there to keep the Armor from ripping away and to replace the ceramic skin once it burns away. However, even with this ablation it is not unknown for passengers to be killed when tolerances are exceeded, newer models we're equipped with inertial dampeners.
A 30-second countdown begins on the commander’s mark, and the SOAIVs fire quickly down through the ship’s belly. The SOAIV is balanced to stabilize in a feet-down position. The pod has limited maneuvering capability, used primarily to coordinate landings, but may be used to avoid defensive anti-aircraft fire. However, if defensive anti-aircraft is present it is almost a mathematical certainty that some pods will be lost. If the armored skin that covers a pod is damaged before or during its entry into atmosphere it has a tendency to fail spectacularly. And this is the reason for the SOAIV's small size—each hit only results in one death rather than the deaths of the entire unit.
Once within the atmosphere and at a height of 3,000ft, a metallic drag chute deploys for a short while before detaching to steady the descent, keeping the pod on course, and providing some deceleration. A more conventional backup chute is provided for landing, although final deceleration is typically accomplished using retro rockets forcing the passenger to experience significant g-forces. Needless to say, failure of any combination of components could be fatal. The mere impact of the "Pod" may be life-threatening.
The vehicle contains weapons, ammunition, rations and a radio, and can be used as a shelter if need be. It is also possible to store a light vehicle such as a M244 Ultra-Light All-Terrain Vehicle inside the SOAIV, or even a NOVA mine tactical nuke. These are called SEAIVs (Special Equipment Atmospheric Insertion Vehicle). The SOAIV's also store an extra tank of rocket fuel, which is not used up in the landing, but is rather used for moving to a different location. The pod, however, must be stood up in the position designed to land in.