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The Orbital Insertion Pod is a single-occupant, Covenant-manufactured, high-altitude deployment vehicle. It is roughly cylindrical/ovoid in shape, but with two tapered, slightly angular ends. It is made of burnished cyan-purple metal, but has an interior that conforms to the physique of a Covenant Sangheili. Upon impact with the ground, the pod splits into two halves, revealing the interior and allowing the Sangheili inside to exit.
When the Covenant decide to capture a planet rather than simply glassing it from orbit, they use orbital insertion pods to drop Sangheili to the planet's surface as shock troops. Use of these pods is very hazardous, and is reserved only for critical situations, or when a surprise attack is necessary. It is theorized that the pods are coated with an energy shield to disperse heat, and are armored to withstand anti-air flak cannon fire. The vaguely coffin-shaped pods are small and cramped, with barely enough room for one Sangheili and his weapon, and there appear to be no restraints or other devices inside. It is probable that a stasis field holds the Sangheili safely in place during impact. Upon landing, the front of the pod blows off to allow exit.
These pods made their first appearance in the Halo 2 E3 Demo, where Sangheili came down and openly challenged John-117 with Energy Swords. In the games, they first appear in the Halo 2 level Outskirts and subsequently were evident around New Mombasa during the Battle of Earth. They also appear in the levels Sacred Icon, Quarantine Zone, and Uprising, occupied by allies of Thel 'Vadamee.
They also appear in the Halo 3 level Floodgate, sent by the Shadow of Intent to aid John-117 and Thel 'Vadam against the Flood infestation in Voi. The impact is hard enough to break the occupying Elite's energy shield once it hits the ground.
They make a return in Halo: Reach, where they appear to be more rounded and bulky than the previous versions. An even larger variant of the pod exists, which allow the deployment of multiple Covenant troops. During Long Night of Solace, while the UNSC is attacking it, the Ardent Prayer launches dozens of drop pods, which are destructible, if the player can reach them in time. However, you must use caution when trying to destroy them as they are an instant kill if they impact your Sabre. Also, the pods now have holographic displays on the inside of their door rather than it being a blank sheet of metal.
- In Halo 3, one may enter the pods on the level Floodgate when playing on Co-Op as the second, third, or fourth player (a Sangheili), provided the pods are not shot at all. If the player approaches one and holds the Right Bumper, he can jump into the pod, as if it were a vehicle.
- The Halo 2 and Halo 3 era drop pods resemble ancient Egyptian sarcophagi; the posture of the Sangheili inside (arms crossed) resembles the posture of the mummified remains placed within Egyptian coffins.
- The Halo: Reach era drop pod more closely resembles the human SOEIV as it has a hatch that it jettisons upon landing rather than splitting down the middle and it is also more egg shaped than cylindrical.
- The appearance of the drop pod changed dramatically from the E3 2010 demo to its launch version. In the E3 demo it appeared to be more boxy and angular, while the launch version is smoother, more detailed and is more like a wider version of the one from Halo 2.
- Orbital Insertion Pods have made their biggest appearance in Halo: Reach, they appear many times in two different gametypes compared to the more scripted events from the previous games and have more variation in appearance as well with two different types.