Mission pods are large interchangeable equipment modules located at the rear of some Starfleet ship classes. A wide variety are available for captains to choose from depending on the needs of the mission at hand. In order to switch pods, starships must be docked at a starbase large enough to house the vessel internally. Appropriate diagnostics and testing of ship's systems require a minimum of two days for the swap-out procedure to be completed.
Commonly used pod loadouts are kept on hand by starbases for quick switching. These include:
- Tactical pod: Contains an additional six forward and two aft photon torpedo launchers.
- Subspace telemetry and signal interception pod: Provides advanced warning of incoming threats and subspace communication monitoring abilities.
- Hospital pod: A 200 bed hospital along supplies for the construction of four field hospitals on a planetary surface.
- Hangar pod: Can carry an additional ten runabouts or twenty Valkyrie-class fighters.
- Colony pod: A colony complex with space for 300 colonists. On reaching a destination world, the pod separates from the ship and lands on the surface. The pod then deploys itself into key structures, optimised for the climate and conditions of the target planet.
- Cetacean pod: A fully aquatic operations centre from which water dwelling crew can work freely, providing valuable scientific insight. Particularly important for the study of Class-O worlds.
- Observation pod: Contains an array of scientific equipment and supplies with which to covertly construct “duck blinds” for the observation of pre-warp species. This pod can be manned and left in orbit in lieu of outpost construction.
- Tug pod: Carries a powerful tractor beam module which can be used to tow small to medium sized vessels for extended periods of time at warp.
- Sentry pod: To protect unarmed facilities or areas in need of temporary tactical support, this pod may be detached from the ship and left in place. Eight torpedo launchers providing 365° fire coverage make it a formidable defense platform. Two launchers are placed on the pod's dorsal plane, meaning only six can be used while this pod is attached to the ship.
Some captains may wish to design custom mission pods to suit special assignment needs. All switch-out capable starbases also have the ability to retrofit pods with new components. This will, however, take several weeks to accomplish as opposed to mere days required to fit a prebuilt pod.