The source of suspense in The Cold Equations by Tom Goodwin begins immediately in that space is considered the final frontier. While traveling in space the laws of nature must be followed and any deviation can lead to disaster. This sets the stage for a suspenseful journey.
Soon after the Emergency Dispatch lifts off, the captain detects something unknown in the supply closet. What is it? Is it alive? What is it doing onboard? It is a living body, but why is it there when Barton, the pilot, is the only one who is supposed to be aboard? The suspense builds. Because of the precision needed to fly an emergency vehicle, Barton knows exactly what he has to do when his indicator tells him that there is a stowaway aboard.
What should he do when he tells the stowaway to step out of hiding only to determine that it is an innocent teenage girl? Who is she, and what fate awaits her? The suspense continues as these questions are answered throughout the story.