...the crew were concentrating on removing the CO2 from the atmosphere which suggests that their main problem was not the lack of oxygen.
Wasn't that one of the big problems in Apollo 13
? According to the movie version they had to figure out how to modify and install some spare CO2 scrubbers with duct tape and whatnot.
true you raise a good point however remeber that the emp knocked out allout of ship functions and even though it is never mentioned it could well have afected the grav locks that hold the escape pods to the ship.
Conventionally, any infrastructure or equipment related to emergency situations are design to "fail safe".
- Emergency exits are never locked from the inside; "EXIT" lights have self-contained battery power;
- electrical circuit breakers may be padlocked open (ie. off) but never closed; panic buttons to shut down machinery operate by interrupting a circuit and not by completing one;
- POTS ("plain old telephone service") has a voltage on it provided by the telco to operate a standard phone set, so that calls may be placed during a general power blackout;
- if the power steering suddenly fails on a car you can still steer it, even if it's harder to turn the wheel;
- some lifeboats on marine vessels
are precariously perched at the top of a ramp so that gravity takes over when it's released. You don't even have to crank it down.
I would fully expect that an escape pod would be designed to be launched and operable by low-tech mechanical manual controls, at least to get away from the ship. At the very worst, the crew would have to fire up their iPods ...er... backlit tablet screens to serve as a flashlight to find their way. Nah, not even that. There should be luminescent paint markers to show the way to the critical locations like suit lockers and escape pods.