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No Man’s Sky ship customization and upgrade guide

In No Man’s Sky, your ship is your companion: without it, you can’t explore, travel, or do anything that defines the experience. Your value to the universe (and its value to you) is determined by your capacity to purchase and upgrade ships, so you can “star hop” and, hopefully, find your way to the centre of the galaxy.

Importantly, your ship is used to travel from planet to planet to gather resources, which help you craft upgrades. Some upgrade require units, while others can simply be crafted by using materials you find on planets.

In this guide, we’ll show you the different types of ships available to you, how to upgrade them, and some tips to ensure you quickly build your ship up into the ultimate star traveller!

You’ll want to also check out our other guides to ensure you’re well prepared before heading out into the galaxy. Everything from adding inventory slots and upgrading your exosuit, to earning units and making money quickly, and, importantly, how to find and craft antimatter.

Check out our guides below.


No Man’s Sky ship classes

There are three types of ship class in No Man’s Sky. Unfortunately, you’ll only be able to own and use one ship at a time, so it’s important to have a clear objective and goal, which will allow you to choose the right ship based on how you want to play.

Cargo Ship

  • Large ships that are used for trading.
  • They have a much larger cargo capacity than other ship classes.
  • Specifically designed to hold more items and resources for trade.
  • Cargo ships are big, bulky and slow.
  • These ships can withstand an aggressive attack due to their heavy weaponry. However, they are slow and can therefore struggle to run away if things get out of hand. Be wary when getting into a dogfight with a cargo ship.

Fighter Ship

  • These ships are designed to fight, evade, and chase.
  • If you enjoy dogfighting, taking on Sentinels, battling space pirates and joining faction, then Fighter Ships should be your chosen ship.
  • Fighter Ships are generally the fastest ships in the game.
  • Their advanced weaponry makes them particularly useful in battle.

Exploration Ship

  • As you might expect, an exploration ship is designed to help you travel long distances.
  • If you have little intention to explore, craft, mine, fight and trade, then an exploration ship should be right up your alley.
  • They tend to have powerful jump drives with fantastic upgrading capacity, allowing you to reach the centre of the universe faster than with other ships.



How To Buy A Ship

Ships are fairly common in the universe, so you shouldn’t have any issue finding one that suits your needs. Seeing as though they are procedurally generated (like everything else in the game), you will never find the same ship twice.

You can purchase a ship from a number of locations:

  • Visit a trading post
  • Explore a space station
  • Find an observatory
  • Find ship stops where are other ships have landed

You can simply offer to purchase a ship if you find one you desire. If you see one you like, buy it immediately: don’t risk losing it, because ships come and go and you may never find one like it again.

Crashed Ships

Crashed ships are interesting because more often than not, if you find one it’ll be better than the ship you’re currently using. The catch of course is that there is something wrong with it, so you’ll need to repair it. The other downside is that you’ll lose your current ship, all of its upgrades and fuel, so while the crashed exploration ship you find might be better overall than your current fighter ship, it might not be worthwhile considering your style and gameplay plans. In my experience, however, it’s almost always been worth the upgrade and units to repair the crashed ship.

Ship components and technology upgrades

Components are like the organs of your ship. If you leave them, they’ll eventually rot and you won’t get very far with them. Work them out and improve them, however, and you can build a beast of a ship.

These components can be upgraded, meaning you can change out your ship’s drive, instruments, ammo, weapons and fuel capacity. Importantly, the upgrades available will depend entirely on the type of ship you’re currently using.

In order to upgrade components, you need to collect resources, and use said resources to craft the necessary technology.

How To Upgrade A Ship’s Component

Upgrading a ship’s components is fairy simply: just open the ship’s inventory. There are four technology upgrade categories (which also apply to your exosuit):

  • Health Technology: This protects your ship. You can craft the Ballistic Plating V4 for your ship.
  • Hyperdrive Technology: This is propulsion, allowing you to jump from one planetary system to another. Hyperdrives can reportedly be crafted using Silicon and Iridium. The upgrade available for this is Ion Propulsion V1
  • Scan Technology: This technology upgrades the various scanners on your ship. Upgrades available: Binoculars and Rangeboost V1
  • Weapons Technology: This upgrades your ship’s weaponry.

You’ll be able to buy and sell goods at the countless space stations you’ll find scattered throughout the universe. Prices will vary depending on where you are and the rarity of the product itself: the closer to the centre you are, the more expensive things tend to be.

Upgrade your ship relative to its use: for an exploration ship, focus on upgrading the hyperdrive and purchasing plenty of fuel. You’ll also want upgrades for speed and manoeuvrability. Cargo ships need more slots to hold cargo (obviously), while Fighter ships need to be able to take on and run away from pirates, so focus on weapons and manoeuvrability.

IMPORTANT: Don’t die. Once you die, you lose your ship for good, and all that hard work you put into upgrading it will be for nothing. Only enter into a fight you are absolutely certain you can win, and if you’re outnumbered, don’t be afraid to run away. Sometimes it’s best.



Different Types Of Ship Components

  • Drives
  1. Regular throttle: Normal method of propulsion within a planet’s atmosphere. Disabled whenever you leave a planet. Press Circle to boost.
  2. Pulse drive: Jump within a star system at speeds of 350-450u.
  3. Hyperdrive: Jump from one system to another, and can be upgraded. Offers speeds of > 4000u.


  • Instrument Panels

Your ship has a centre screen that is used for navigation. There are other panels that display speed, shield details, distance, as well as other important details of your travels.


  • Heads-Up Display

This is your ship’s HUD, showing weather conditions and the planet’s name.


  • Weapons

Your weapons will change and vary depending on the type of ship. Fighter ships tend to have more advanced weaponry, while trading ships will have heavy weaponry to fight off pirates and compensate for lack of speed.


  • Fuel

You need to pay attention to your fuel gauge. You can run out of fuel during a jump, which can leave you stranded in the middle of space. You can refuel your ship by mining necessary resources, particularly from asteroids.


  • Ammo

Ammo is also a finite resource, so be sure to mine and purchase ammo so that you’re always ready for a battle.


  • Defense

Your ship’s defensive mechanisms (generally the shield and deflector) need fuel, so that makes it that little bit more important to keep an eye on the fuel gauge. Only use your shield when you’re under attack so as to preserve fuel.

Buying Fuel and Upgrading Your Hyperdrive

Being the most fuel-intensive aspect of ship travel, it’s important to ensure your hyperdrive has the necessary resources to actually be of use to you. Fuel elements are indicated as red on the periodic table, so keep an eye out for them. You can mine Thamium9 on asteroids and buy it from space stations: it is a fantastic way to quickly refuel your ship.

Got any tips for ship customization and upgrades in No Man’s Sky? Sound off in the comments below!

Dick Wulfgren

Thursday 7th of September 2017

you don't lose your ship if you die... some of the upgrades break, but you don't lose it. you cant turn shields on or off and they dont use fuel when not being damaged. Ammo isn't finite on all weapons. missing shuttle and exotic ship types. It's like the author never played the game.

Master Fenix

Tuesday 26th of September 2017

Article was written a year ago. I'm sure a lot has changed.

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