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Revision as of 08:42, 5 August 2014 by Brendan (talk | contribs) (Overhauled. +Painstaking research on type hierarchy)
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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

In Map view (and the Tracking Station), each object has a single type. Type is the criteria both for filtering the display of objects and the icon each object is represented with. Type can be manually changed through a command module's “Rename Vessel” option or in the “i” info panel in Map view. There are seven possible craft types, including Debris.

When craft are launched from the Runway or Launch Pad, and the first time a sub-craft detaches from its parent by decouplers or docking ports, KSP automatically assigns one of four types to each craft based on its command module. Each command module has a default type of either Ship, Lander, Rover, or Probe.

When multiple command modules or craft are combined, type is resolved by a hierarchy (listed below from highest ranked type to lowest). When multiple command modules are built into one craft, the module with the highest type sets the default type of the whole craft. When multiple craft are docked together as one craft, the combined craft's type and name are determined by the craft which originally had the highest type. After undocking, craft resume their original names and types. When craft of equal type dock together, possibly the older craft determines the combined craft's name.

  • Base
  • Station
  • Ship
  • Lander
  • Rover
  • Probe
  • Debris

Being part of KSP, this type system is universal. However, it may not always match players' perceptions. A command module of one type may be chosen for what is functionally another. One craft may be a hybrid possessing qualities of multiple types or be composed of multiple sub-craft of different types joined together. Or the craft may be something completely different.

Descriptions of each type follow in the order they appear in Map view.


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