Some escape pods were designed to fly into the upper atmosphere to await being picked up by a ship, which was how Yoda departed Kashyyyk when Order 66 was declared. Some planets had a network of escape pods that could launch into the upper atmosphere away from danger. Smaller ships, such as the Millennium Falcon and other light freighters, carried very small escape pods that could only hold one person.
At the advice of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo jettisoned the escape pods of the Millennium Falcon when the ship was caught in the tractor beam of the Death Star. He lamented their loss, as they were expensive, but recognized the value of the move as a ruse and recorded a captain's log stating that he had abandoned the ship.
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