Robert Comsol wrote:
Though this thread is a year old, I thought I'd add my two-cents. I believe that the Star Fleet would continually upgrade the escape pod designs and mechanisms on all ships of the fleet, regardless of age and design. There's no resign the Excelsior class wouldn't end up with lifeboats similar to Voyager's in due time.
No matter how I look at the various possibilities, I think Rick Sternbach's cube proposal makes the most sense.
When I did the Voyager escape pods, which were appropriated for use on the Defiant, I also built in some docking capabilities, though the number of pods in a gaggle would be a bit lower due to the lack of docking ports on all sides. You'd still be able to connect a number of pods along the lateral ports, and hook a similar string of pods "roof to roof" to be able to wait out a deep space disaster or power on over to a habitable planet. The docking business was really devised to make personnel like medical folks available in a crisis.