ByNo Woman's Sky, writer at
Experience the No Man's Sky universe through the eyes of an explorer
No Woman's Sky

In No Man's Sky your starship is a vital part of your exploration adventure. The game includes a range of ship designs and a variety of companion units for upgrading everything from warp distance achievable to attack power.

In this article we'll look at ships in more detail, including:

  • Your first ship
  • Upgrades!
  • Acquisition
  • Configuration

First Love

When you start No Man's Sky you've got your own ship. Sure, she's a smoking wreck you need to fix before you can get off the ground, but she's yours, and you think she's a pretty sweet ride.

In the rush to survive it might be a while before you take a good look at your ship specifications. When you do, you'll see that your first starship is either a Rasamama S36, or if you got the pre-order bonus on PS4 a Domanish S84. (If you're on PC your pre-order ship may be different.)

Let's have a look at each in more detail.

Rasamama S36

If you open the STARSHIP tab you'll see the ship has 15 inventory slots available and comes with Launch Thruster, Pulse Engine, Deflector Shield, and Photon Cannon.

Domanish S84

The pre-order bonus ship on PS4 has 16 inventory slots, and comes with the same basic components as the Rasamama; in addition it has a Hyperdrive and Phase Beam.

It may take a few hours or even days of exploring before you begin to realise this first ship isn't going to take you to the centre of the galaxy.

For me, it took breaking out of warp into a region with hostiles for the realisation to hit - they were on my ass in seconds and my only avenue was to run away, as fast as I could. I took significant damage but managed to make it down to the closest planet. That's when I knew - my first love would not be my last.

More power!

Upgrading in No Man's Sky works via companion units you install into starship inventory slots. You'll pick up blueprints for these companion units from helping the locals, as well as from checking out damaged machinery scattered across the landscape.

Find a blueprint for a new upgrade and the materials to construct it and you're set - with a free slot available you can add the upgrade to your starship.

You can dismantle upgrades as well but beware, doing so will only return around half of the materials you put in. If you've put something valuable in (for example a dynamic resonator), there's no guarantee you'll get it back.

I know what you're thinking. "How many upgrades could there be? Maybe with some additions I can keep that first love - give it more power to meet the challenges of space battle."

The answer is, a lot - more than you'll fit in your first starship. While you don't need them all, you'll probably want quite a few!

You can add companion units to everything except the Launch Thruster. Here are all the ship components and their companion units.

Launch Thruster

  • 1 slot required


  • Deflector Shield + Deflection Enhancement Sigma, Tau, and Theta
  • 4 slots required

Boost and maneuverability

  • Pulse Engine + Pulse Jet Sigma and Tau, and Photonix Core
  • 4 slots required

Warp distance

  • Hyperdrive + Warp Reactor Sigma, Tau, and Theta
  • 4 slots required

If your ship doesn't have a Hyperdrive then think carefully about where you install it once you've got the blueprint, because once installed you won't be able to dismantle it.


  • Photon Cannon + Cannon Damage, Accelerated Fire, and Advanced Cooling (all with Sigma, Tau, and Theta versions)
  • 10 slots required

Mining (and attack)

  • Phase Beam + Beam Impact and Phase Coolant (both with Sigma, Tau and Theta versions)
  • 7 slots required

If you want a starship with all of these upgrades, you need at least 30 slots! Of course you probably won't want all of them but it's good to know how big your ship needs to be if you did.

It's a heart breaker but the reality is clear. Your first ship just isn't big enough for the kind of power you're going to need. It's time to let go ... move on ... trade up.

Trading up

There are two ways to get a new starship.

  • Trade with a Gek, Korvax, or Vy'keen ship when it's parked either at a landing pad on planet, or in a space station
  • Find a crashed ship, swap it for your existing ship, and then repair it

While both of these methods are simple to execute, they each come with a different set of challenges to overcome.

Trading for a new ship

See a starship you like? Interact with the ship and you'll have three options when talking to the pilot.

You can buy and sell items ... and you can make an offer on the lifeform's starship.

Don't worry, choosing this option doesn't lock you in to actually making an offer. What it does it let you look at the entity's starship - see if it's got what you're looking for. When you choose this option you'll see something like this:

See that green box down the bottom on the right - that's the 'offer' you have to make to swap starships. Yeah, it's not actually an offer - it's the price and there's no negotiation.

  • If you want to see how the ship compares to yours, choose the green box - you can back out once you've had a look. It will put your current ship beside the trader's so you can consider which is best.
  • If you're not interested in the ship and you don't want to look at it again, choose 'Decline'.
  • If you want to sell some things to raise a bit of cash, or look at your other inventories first, then just hit the back button. As long as the ship is still parked you can interact with it again and have another look at the ship specs.

What you'll notice once you've looked at a few ships is that getting a new starship this way is an EXPENSIVE endeavour! The prices vary by ship size, type, number of slots, and already installed companion units.

Working out what's a good deal will be challenging!

My advice is to spend a bit of time at a space station interacting with all the ships that land. Look at ship specifications, see what you get for the units you'll have to outlay. You'll have a better chance of recognising a bargain when it turns up.

Here's a summary of the units and slots for a few ships that turned up the day I staked out a space station. Based on this survey, you'll need in excess of six million units before you can even think about buying a 30+ slot ship

The price seems to hike up rapidly the more slots the ship has. The 31 slot ship in the picture above cost 9.7 million units compared with 5.4 million for a 30 slot ship - doing my maths that works out to be 4.3 million for that extra slot. It's not as simple as that - the 31 slot ship has 9 upgrades already installed, including one of the warp reactors.

The cost may also be affected by your current starship value as well. I was still in my Domanish S84 when I collected the above prices. If you're in a bigger, better ship you might find the price for the same number of slots is a lot steeper!

The message? Pay attention to more than just the number of slots and the price. Look at what's installed and whether it's what you'd want in your ship. Given the cost, you're not going to be regularly trading up ships this way - not unless you have a quick way to make lots of units!

In a separate post I'll talk about a couple of methods for earning units (relatively) quickly.

Once you've found a deal you can't say no to, don't forget to transfer all your inventory to your new ship before accepting the trade. That includes dismantling any companion units you've installed.

Bottom line:

  • Advantage for this method - you can get a big increase in the number of inventory slots with one transaction
  • Disadvantage for this method - you need A LOT of units up front; it'll be time consuming to generate sufficient units to put yourself into the market

Fixing up a crashed ship:

On every planet and moon you go to, you'll find someone was there before you. No, not another No Man's Sky player. The inhabitants of the No Man's Sky universe - Gek, Korvax, Vy'keen - have been flying around the place for a long time and they've had their moments of bad luck. Really bad luck! Their misfortune is your good fortune, because they've left behind their ships.

You can find crash sites through chance - flying low and spotting a tell tale plume of black smoke still rising from the wreckage. They can be hard to spot - fly slow and as low as you can to give yourself the best chance.

You can give your search a boost by finding an observatory or operations terminal. Sometimes they'll be about a distress beacon that will lead you to a crashed ship. You'll get a message like this, and have to solve a simple mathematical sequence to be given the location.

This way you'll at least know you're heading for a crash site, but you still have to hunt down the operations terminals so you're swapping one kind of search for a different one.

You can two-stage the search for operations terminals by using signal scanners. Choose transmissions and you'll sometimes get a beacon and sometimes a transmission tower that will lead to an operations terminal. You can use the same signal scanner multiple times so keep trying if you don't get the kind of marker you're looking for first up.

Once you've found your crashed ship, you can compare it to your existing ship. With crashed ships you'll only get a 1 slot increase in ship inventory size. If you're looking to increase the number of inventory slots you have by more than this, settle in for a repetitive process!

So, here are the steps in the process for growing your ship size as quickly as possible:

  • Find a crashed ship - check that it's 1 slot bigger than yours. I found, especially for crash sites I stumbled across, sometimes the wrecked ship had the same/less slots.
  • Dismantle every companion unit in your ship FIRST - the only things left should be the Launch Thruster, Pulse Engine, Deflector Shield, Photon Cannon, and Hyperdrive (the only items on a ship that can't be dismantled)
  • Reduce the inventory stock in your ship to the barest minimum you can - transfer whatever you can fit into your exosuit (the more slots you have there at this point, the better)
  • Select 'Compare' after interacting with the crashed ship
  • Transfer any remaining inventory from your ship to the new ship FIRST - you may have to leave some things behind so transfer rare/valuable items first
  • Accept the crashed ship as yours
  • Repair ONLY the Launch Thruster and Pulse Engine so you can take off, don't waste resources repairing anything else - you won't need shields or weapons until you go back into space.
  • Rinse and repeat

If you follow these steps for long enough not only will you end up with a ship that has more inventory slots but you'll also collect valuable items that should have you in a good position to make the necessary companion units.

Materials you will need to keep well stocked:

  • Oxides - Iron (for construction of carite sheets) and zinc
  • Silicates - Heridium
  • Isotopes - Plutonium and Thamium9 (to charge the launch thruster and pulse engine)

The in-ship warning about your shield being damaged can get a bit annoying if you're doing lots of flying. If you can't drown it out, spend the resources needed to repair it.

  • 3 Carite Sheets
  • 250 Heridium

The other thing to note is that if you park your ship next to the crashed ship you can swap back to it again if you want. This may allow you to leave valuable inventory behind to go free up space and come back for it later. You just have to remember where it is because once you swap you'll lose your ship marker! For the most efficient process of trading up from crashed ship to crashed ship I recommend keeping your inventory as empty as possible and selling what you can whenever you get the chance.

Whether you stumble across crashed ships or use operations terminals, you'll see that searching for crash sites will be time consuming. You'll probably have to canvas a few planets/moons and maybe even move systems to get a big increase in inventory slots this way.

Bottom line:

  • Advantage for this method - you don't need lots of units up front and you'll collect materials and items you can sell or use for upgrades
  • Disadvantage for this method - you can only increase your inventory slots by 1 for each crashed ship you take on; it's time consuming finding crash sites

So that's it right? You now know what you need to get yourself a kick-ass ship, right? WRONG! There's one last thing you'll need to consider.


Configuration? What's that?

All ships aren't created equal. The inventory slots are arranged in a grid that will be a maximum of 8 columns by 6 rows. The five basic elements of an empty ship - Launch Thruster, Pulse Engine, Deflector Shield, Photon Cannon and Hyperdrive - don't always appear in the same places. The holes in the grid for any ship that's less than 48 slots are also not always in the same place.

Why does that matter?

If you build the companion units next to the item they relate to, you'll get a boost in their effectiveness. Here, have a look at my latest multi-tool so you can see what I mean.

Look closely at the Mining Beam row - I've build all my Mining Beam upgrades next to each other and you can see the boxes all have a green glowing border around them. That means I'm getting an extra kick out of them, because they're side by side. Likewise for my Boltcaster upgrades, all surrounded in a red highlight. They don't have to be in a straight line - just connected, like my boltcaster additions.

These same bonuses can be achieved with your exosuit and also with your starship.

Credit to Polygon for this tip - see ( for the full explanation.

There are two aspects to this:

  • where the items that can't be moved are - you can't influence this!
  • where you build your upgrades - you are in control of this!

A good configuration for a starship is one that has the Launch Thruster, Pulse Engine, Deflector Shield, Photon Cannon, and Hyperdrive (if installed) in positions that allow you to build their companion units adjacent to them.

Focus only on these five items - ignore the rest because you can dismantle and rebuild if need be.

This is a bad configuration:

  • We can only build one companion unit next to the Photon Cannon OR the Deflector Shield and we have to pick one because we can't do both;
  • The Launch Thruster is in a prime spot at the top of a column when we have no companion units to build for it.
  • The Pulse Engine is in a good position for building its companion units down the column - but in a bad position because it's blocking the Deflector Shield and the Photon Cannon.
  • The Hyperdrive is also in a good position for building companion units down the column.

Another bad configuration:

  • The Pulse Engine here is completely blocked off. The holes in the inventory slots below it mean we can't attach any companion units there and it's got the Deflector Shield and Hyperdrive on either side so we can't free up any slots by dismantling.
  • We can only build one companion unit next to the Photon Cannon - the Launch Thruster is blocking the rest of the column which is a waste because we can't build companion units for it
  • The Deflector Shield is in a good position - we have a column we can use for it's companion units

Here's a good configuration:

  • The Deflector Shield, Pulse Engine, Photon Cannon and installed Hyperdrive are all at the top of their columns - we can build companion units below them (after we dismantle everything else);
  • We can manage the gaps to locate almost all the companion units adjacent to each other to get the maximum bonus.

Here's one way to utilise this configuration - dismantling everything first, with ALL the upgrades possible installed (remembering you probably don't need all of them!)

The only separation we have is with the Photon Cannon companion units, which still have some grouping together - not bad!

Sure, it's not the end of the world if you don't consider configuration - but why give up an advantage if it's there for the taking?

Whether you're trading with the Gek, Korvax or Vy'keen for a ship or taking on a fixer-upper from a crash site, consider the configuration.

Okay, so that's really it now - some tips to help you go out and acquire the perfect ship!

Thanks to John Mechalas (@mechalas) for the heads up on ship cost increasing as your ship value goes up, being able to swap back to old ships when using the crashed ship method, and reusing signal scanners; and Halliburton NMS (@HalliburtonNMS) for the heads up on pre-order bonus ship differences between versions.

Leave a comment here or drop me a pic/note on Twitter (@N0womanssky) to brag about your ship successes ;-)

Good luck fellow travellers!


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