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Recovery is the process of removing a craft which has landed on Kerbin from the world, with the implication that an orderly reclamation and cleanup procedure has been followed by the ground crew. In Career mode games, this is the most rewarding way to end a mission (the others being destroying it in a crash and terminating it in the Tracking Station). Also it is the only way to return kerbonauts to the Astronaut Complex.

Recovery was added to the game in version 0.21.


Recovery of the controlled craft or Kerbal

To be eligible for recovery, a craft must be in a stable position on the surface of Kerbin. It may be resting on solid ground, or floating in water, but it cannot be in motion or airborne. Once the craft has reached this state, moving the mouse over the altimeter will reveal a "Recover" button; clicking it will return to the Space Center and display what was recovered.

An eligible craft may also be recovered by locating it in the Tracking Station, at which point a button will become available to perform the recovery. Craft (or debris) that are especially close to KSC may be recovered from the space center by clicking on them.

Recovery may also be used on pieces of debris which have landed intact, or on kerbals who have exited their vehicle after touchdown.


Recovering a craft can deliver any combination of these rewards to the space program:

  • A fraction of the cost in funds of every part recovered will be returned. The fraction returns depends on the distance the craft landed from the Space Center. On the space center grounds, the fraction is 0.98, and beyond is approximately 0.98 - surface_distance_in_km/2150. This means recovery from 1/2 way around the planet yields about 10%, while recovery of a craft sitting on the Launch Pad or runway will deliver a full refund, and that aborting a launch does not result in a loss of funds. The amount of funds recovered can be adjusted by talking to Gus Kerman in the Administration Building on KSC campus.
  • The cost of the resources remaining on board will be refunded.
  • All science contained in the craft's command modules or sensors will be sent to Research and Development.
  • All kerbonauts on board the craft will be returned to the Astronaut Complex.

Some contracts require that a craft be recovered in order to be fully completed; if any such contracts are open and fulfilled by a recovery then the associated rewards will also be delivered at that moment.