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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 probe-controlled plane or rocket a “drone”.


Rovers are wheeled vehicles built to drive on terrestrial surfaces. Rarely are they built to fly or even glide, 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 most commonly categorized either as a rocket or as a plane, though these are not types in the map view, and players' creativity is boundless. What all ships have in common is a command module with an enclosed crew compartment.


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 part of KSP's craft typing but are referenced in-game. These independently apply to craft of any type, and multiple categories may apply to a given craft.


Planes fly horizontally using wings to generate lift inside an atmosphere. Spaceplanes are defined by the ability to fly high and fast enough to reach orbit. They almost universally feature both air-breathing jets and other engines capable of operating at altitudes where oxygen is too scarce.


Any craft that can achieve orbit without dropping any parts (such as fuel tanks or engines) is 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