For those who are unfamiliar with Godwin's 1954 short story (which is included in a number of anthologies, including the book The World Turned Upside Down found here in the 'Best of Jim Baen's Universe CD), I'll include the Wikipedia summary:
The story takes place entirely aboard an Emergency Dispatch Ship (EDS) headed for the frontier planet Woden with a load of desperately needed medical supplies. The pilot, Barton, discovers a stowaway: an eighteen-year-old girl. By law, all EDS stowaways are to be jettisoned because EDS vessels carry no more fuel than is absolutely necessary to land safely at their destination. The girl, Marilyn, merely wants to see her brother, Gerry, and is not aware of the law. When boarding the EDS, Marilyn sees the "UNAUTHORIZED PERSONNEL KEEP OUT!" sign, but thinks she will simply have to pay a fine if she is caught. Barton explains that her presence dooms the mission and will result in the deaths of the colonists. After exhausting all other options (such as calling the mothership, The Stardust), he is forced to eject her into space.
I had one simple problem with the premise of this story, which kept bugging me the entire way through: With so many lives in the balance, why did they include so little margin for error? Things were measured almost literally to the last drop, with no room for any error.
Space is full of hazards, and there's no chance they have fully mapped the path between a random point in space and the destination planet. The EDS could face any number of minor navigation hazards on it's trip, which could require brief acceleration or braking to avoid. The planet's atmosphere may have local conditions which require more fuel (such as a storm which requires using more lateral thrust to land safely).
I realize the fuel is expensive and heavy, and they don't want to use more than absolutely needed for the job...but that's not what they give him: they give him the bare minimum amount of fuel needed IF NOTHING GOES WRONG. It's like they just want to taunt the demon Murphy as much as possible.
How could a society advanced enough to travel between stars be stupid enough to put people into such suicidally dangerous situations? Why didn't the pilot even investigate jettisoning mass equivalent to the girl's weight? Surely there is SOMETHING in the ship that could go.