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Revision as of 08:27, 4 August 2014 by Brendan (talk | contribs) (-"Recognized" as section states these types are what KSP recognizes. Subsection titles plural, matching KSP's own usage.)
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A craft, vessel or vehicle is a group of parts including at least one command module. Inclusion of a command module is the sole difference between craft and debris.

Outside of scenarios and training, craft enter play only by being launched from the Launch Pad or Runway at Kerbal Space Center. One craft may be separated into multiple distinct craft, assuming the separated objects each have a command module. KSP also includes developer-built stock craft of several types, though they're not available in Career or Science mode games.

Vessel types

Each craft has a "type" property, which mostly determines the icon used to represent it in the map view or Tracking Station and which filter can be used to hide or show it. KSP automatically assigns a type to each new craft based on which command module it was built around. When multiple command modules are present, KSP will use the following hierarchy in order of preference:

  • Ships
  • Landers
  • Rovers
  • Probes

This system may not always make the best choice, as it cannot determine the designer's intent. A craft may also have hybrid qualities that don't fit cleanly into one type (such as a winged rover with rockets, or a craft with both crewed and uncrewed command modules). One craft can also consist of multiple component craft which perform different roles after detaching. The type of any craft can be changed manually through a command module's “Rename Vessel” option.

A craft may be labeled as any of the following types:


A craft with a “probe core” and no crew modules or external seats is considered a probe. Commonly probes are designed to orbit a celestial body as a satellite but probes may also take the form of robotic rovers or stationary landers.


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, landers detach or stage from a larger vessel and deorbit onto the surface, typically making a vertical landing with landing legs and remaining stationary unless or until they lift off and return to orbit.

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


The most general type, any vehicle which possesses a manned command module or does not fit into any of the above categories receives this label.


Short for space station, these are installations meant to remain permanently in a fixed orbit. 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 this type to any craft, but it is available to be manually selected.


Bases are installations meant to land on a celestial body and remain as a permanent presence.

KSP does not automatically assign this type to any craft, but it is available to be manually selected.

Additional categories

There are also some categories which are not part of the recognized list of craft types but which are referenced in-game or in official material. These terms are useful for discussions or other contexts.


A Spaceplane is a vehicle which can function as both a plane (using jet engines and aerodynamic lift to fly in an atmosphere) and a spacecraft (achieving orbit and maneuvering in space).


Any craft that can achieve orbit without detaching any parts (such as fuel tanks or engines) is categorized as a single-stage-to-orbit or SSTO. These are almost always spaceplanes, though SSTO rocket designs are possible as well.


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