Single Occupant Exoatmospheric Insertion Vehicle
The Single Occupant Exoatmospheric Insertion Vehicle (SOEIV), informally referred to as the Human Entry Vehicle (HEV) and drop pod and sarcastically known as the Egg, is a small pod used by the United Nations Space Command to deploy an individual from high orbit to the surface.
 Design details
The SOEIV is an angular pod which vary in size. Within it is a crash seat, communications gear, numerous equipment racks, and a rudimentary control system and a single entry and escape hatch. There is a braking chute system on the pod's top to slow it down and a reinforced impact plating on the bottom of it to absorb crash impact. In spite of the pod's apparent size, there is not much room to move around, as most of the bulk is reserved for heat shielding, electronics, and equipment storage. To allow re-entry from high orbit or insertion from deep space, the top of the SOEIV possesses a rocket thruster that also serves as a maneuvering aid during the drop.
In use for nearly three decades, SOEIVs allow for the rapid deployment of ground assault troops near or right onto an objective. Their smaller profiles make them more difficult to destroy by defensive fire than conventional dropships. Each pod bears the name of the soldier inside; amongst other things this identification could be used to identify the unfortunate occupant of a destroyed pod.
UNSC Insertion Protocols call for the command unit of an SOEIV-facilitated assault to land first to minimize the period of disorder that might occur as pods land and troopers deploy. The reasons for this rule include the strongly held belief that officers should lead rather than follow, should be willing to do anything their troops are asked to do, and should expose themselves to the same level of danger as their subordinates. The commander’s pod is equipped with a great deal of equipment that the regular SOEIVs do not possess, including high-powered imaging gear, tactical sensors, and a fourth generation, Class C Military "dumb" AI. SOEIV usage is popularly associated with the soldiers of the elite Orbital Drop Shock Trooper divisions, although UNSC Special Forces operators and SPARTAN-II supersoldiers are known to use these as one of their primary infiltration methods as well.
The trooper enters the SOEIV and straps in facing the hatch. The hardened and shielded communications gear, which is built directly into the hatch, feeds the soldier information relevant to the current operation as well as providing a link between all members of the unit during the drop. While within the SOEIV, a soldier's helmet-integrated comm units are redundant and are normally only used if the pod's comm gear malfunctions.
A 30-second countdown begins on the commander’s mark, and the SOEIVs fire quickly down through the ship’s belly. The SOEIV 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. A SOEIV is made of titanium-A, lead 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 lead foil is there to keep the armor from ripping away and to replace the ceramic skin once it burns away. However, as the ceramic skin burns away the air inside the pod becomes unbelievably hot, and if the armored skin that covers a pod is damaged before or during its entry into atmosphere it has a tendency to fail spectacularly. This is the reason for the SOEIV's small size — each pod loss only results in one death rather than the deaths of the entire unit.
After the SOEIV has penetrated the atmosphere, at an altitude of 3,000 feet, the upper exterior panels separate acting as a drag-type chute, slowing its descent some and helping to keep the pod on course. At about 50 meters, the pod’s computer controlled braking rockets engage, slowing the pod further; allowing for a safe though somewhat abrupt landing. Braking rockets on SOEIVs do fail on rare occasions, leaving the pod’s occupant to die on impact. It’s the death that every ODST fears, and is referred to in hushed tones as "digging your own grave."
SOEIVs are capable of smashing through almost any surface during re-entry, including buildings. However, a reinforced roof should be able to withstand the impact, allowing an ODST to begin his or her mission with a distinct vertical advantage.
Besides the distinct speed and shock value advantage that the SOEIV has, it also has another advantage over conventional systems. Because the SOEIV is dropped from above, this allows it to enter much tighter spaces like an urban area where a Pelican might have trouble maneuvering, this can also be used of hazardous terrain where the long length of a Pelican makes landing a challenge. 
Along with the quick deployment speed of a SOEIV comes the responsibility of being the first ones in, this means the first wave of ODST's primary objective will be securing a landing zone for Pelican and Albatross dropships in order to get a more concentrated force on the ground and to bring in heavier equipment like Warthogs and additional heavy weapons.
Upon landing, the hatch of the SOEIV is removed by an explosive gas-bolt system triggered by the occupant. Then, each ODST is responsible for stripping their pod of its store of extra weapons, ammo, and other supplies, which are then hauled to the unit’s temporary base camp. ODSTs are used to operating without resupply for extended periods, and they are well known to be at their best when under difficult conditions.
Each SOEIV contains a variable number of weapons, ammunition, rations, a radio, and can be used as a shelter if need be. Dedicated SOEIV variants exist to deliver supply caches to ground forces, ranging from weapons and ammunition, to small light vehicles such as an M274 Ultra-Light All-Terrain Vehicle, and even a Shiva-class nuclear missile.
The SOEIV also stores an extra tank of rocket fuel which is not used up in the landing but is rather used for moving to a different location if the vehicle has somehow been knocked off target or is in a currently undesirable location; however, the pod needs must be in the proper upright landing position in order for the booster to be useable.
 Long Range Stealth Orbital Insertion Pod
- Main article: Long Range Stealth Orbital Insertion Pod
An improvement on the SOEIV was the Long Range Stealth Orbital Insertion Pod which came into service around 2545. The long range pods featured a Stealth Ablative Coating and could be launched from Slipspace. This pod was used to transport SPARTAN-III Beta Company to the surface of Pegasi Delta during Operation TORPEDO.
- The United States' Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is currently working on project SUSTAIN, codenamed "Hot Eagle". The project's aim is to have heavily-armed United States Marines launched into suborbital space and then reenter anywhere on Earth in less than a total of four hours. Specifications have not yet been revealed to the public.
- Popularly, the concept of dropping individual soldiers onto a planet from orbit in pods is attributed to Robert A. Heinlein's novel Starship Troopers. HEVs in the Halo universe act similarly to those described in the book. ODST doctrine of 'command unit first' also resembles Mobile Infantry doctrine of 'officers first'. Additionally, the ODST tradition of playing the ODST Anthem prior to a drop is similar to Mobile Infantry traditions in Starship Troopers, with the anthem of the unit's respective troop ship played on their radios during mid drop.
- In Halo Wars, Captain Cutter's special ability allows the player to drop an entire squad of ODSTs in a single pod. This likely should not be regarded as canon, as it is undoubtedly applied to enhance gameplay, as the individual arrival of every single SOEIV would cause the feature to be much too slow for practical application. Also, the ability drops the ODST squad into battle much too quickly, with pods arriving on the surface seconds after the order is given. This, too, is acceptable as a gameplay conceit. It is possible, however, that the UNSC Spirit of Fire used special pods that were used to deploy the entire squad in a single location.
A scaled drawing of the SOEIV from Halo 2.
Concept art of a SOEIV drop pod for Halo 3: ODST.
A crashed SOEIV on Installation 00.
The Rookie's SOEIV seen in Halo 3: ODST.
 List of appearances
- Halo 2
- Halo 3
- Halo Wars
- Halo 3: ODST
- Halo: The Flood (First appearance)
- Halo: First Strike (Mentioned only)
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx (Mentioned only)
- Halo: Contact Harvest (Mentioned only)
- Halo: The Cole Protocol
- Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe
- Halo: Helljumper
- Halo Legends
- The Life
- Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn
- ^ a b c d e f g Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, page 52
- ^ a b c d e Bungie.net: Halo 3 ODST : Field Guide - SOEIV "DROP POD"
- ^ a b c Halo: The Flood, page 35
- ^ Halo 3: ODST, campaign level Prepare to Drop
- ^ a b c d Xbox 360 Magazine, "Issue 35", pages 34-37
- ^ Halo: Contact Harvest, page 350
- ^ a b Halo 2, campaign level Delta Halo - "Helljumpers"
- ^ Halo: The Flood, page 49
- ^ Halo: The Cole Protocol, page 132
- ^ Halo 2, campaign level Outskirts - "They'll Regret That Too"
- ^ Halo: The Cole Protocol, page 315
- ^ Halo: The Cole Protocol, page 319