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A craft, vessel or vehicle is a group of parts which is controlled by a command module, without which the group is debris.

Already included in KSP are various developer-built stock craft.

Vessel types

In map view, KSP automatically sorts each craft (and other objects) into one out of several types. Each command module belongs to one type and the whole craft is typed based on which command module it has. When multiple command modules are present, KSP applies type based on whichever module belongs to the highest type in the following hierarchy (ordered highest to lowest):

  • Ships
  • Landers
  • Rovers
  • Probes

This system may not always agree with player's perceptions. Craft may have hybrid qualities that don't logically fit one type exclusively (such as a winged rover with rockets). One craft can also consists of multiple different craft which detach later. KSP uses the same hierarchy to determine the type after separating a craft, but type can be changed manually through any command module's “Rename Vessel” option.


A craft with a “probe core” and no crew modules or external seats is typed by KSP as a probe. Commonly probes are designed to orbit a celestial body but probes may also take the form of wheeled vehicles, or stationary landers. Most players will call a plane or rocket controlled by a probe core a “drone”.


Rovers are wheeled vehicles built to drive on terrestrial surfaces. Rarely are they built to reach orbit or even fly, though they may be carried by another craft elsewhere on Kerbin or to another celestial body. Typically they will have powered rover wheels, but landing gear coupled with RCS or reaction engines also work.

The EAS-1 External Command Seat is the only command module automatically typed as a rover.


Typically part of manned missions to a celestial body without an atmosphere, landers detach or stage from a larger vessel, deorbit onto the surface, typically making a vertical landing with landing legs and remaining stationary unless or until they liftoff to orbital range. Some unmanned probes behave the same landers but by default will be typed as probes.

KSP automatically types a craft as a lander if its command module is a Mk1 Lander Can, Mk2 Lander-can, PPD-12 Cupola Module.


Most manned craft are automatically classed by KSP as a ship. They are commonly categorized either as a rocket or as a plane, though these are not types in the map view.


Rockets rely on thrust for lift and as a rule launch vertically. Usually they're built in the Vehicle Assembly Building and liftoff from the launch pad. The vast majority of rockets are divided into a launcher of one or more stages, which are discarded, and a payload segment. Rarely, a rocket may be powered by jet engines but only during in-atmosphere stages.


Planes fly horizontally using wings to generate lift. They almost always takeoff horizontally from the runway after assembly in the Spaceplane Hangar.

Planes are further subdivided into airplanes and spaceplanes. Airplanes are meant to remain within the atmosphere. Spaceplanes are defined by the ability to reach orbit, and almost universally feature both air-breathing engines and ones capable of operating in the vacuum of space such as rocket engines. Purely rocket-powered planes are relatively inefficient due to oxidizer which needs to be carried with the craft. Jet engines instead use oxygen from an oxygenated atmosphere if inside.


Typically short for “space station”, these are installations meant to remain permanently in orbit and typically one what doesn't change. Stations are distinguished from probe satellites by either being manned or made for other vessels to dock with, usually both.

KSP does not automatically assign any craft to this type.


Bases are installations meant to remain in place on the surface of a celestial body for at least an arbitrarily “long time”, more often permanently. Bases are usually manned outposts.

KSP does not automatically assign any craft to this type.

Additional categories

There are also some categories which are not explicitly recognized by KSP and may apply to craft of any type. Multiple categories may apply to one craft.


Craft that can achieve orbit without dropping any parts are categorized as a single-stage-to-orbit or SSTO. These are almost always spaceplanes, though some rockets designs are able to attain orbit without dropping stages.


The category of Vertical TakeOff and Landing is generally applied to any craft able to both takeoff and land vertically without dropping any parts or relying on parachutes. This most often applies to planes as they typically takeoff and land horizontally, but KSP's stock example is perhaps best described as a VTOL rover.

See also