Elite: Dangerous Blog

News and events from the Elite Dangerous galaxy

Tips for beginners: The galaxy, far, far away

elite_noobOkay, so I am assuming you have done the basic tutorial missions. You haven’t? Well, do them! No arguments. They teach you the basic basics. What’s the difference between this and those? The same difference between driving lessons and road experience. One gets you a licence, the other keeps you alive afterwards.

Getting to planets and stations in other star systems is about having a Frame Shift Drive that can “throw” the weight of your ship far enough and sufficient fuel to get there.

Rule#1 - Don’t run out of fuel

Never set out with an empty fuel tank. Ever. There will be tears. Then gasping, followed by death. Bad idea.

Pick a star

You are out of the station, you’ve cleared mass-lock and you’re ready to see the galaxy. Unlike most other games the starry sky is not a painted backdrop, but a realistic render of the stars as viewed from that position in space. If you can see it, you can go there!

“All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by”

- John Masefield

The first to be aware of is what your ship’s jump range is in light years. This is show on the Systems Panel on the Functions TAB. For the basic Sidewinder that will be 8Ly. Not much. With upgrades the humble Sidey can leap 22ly in a single bound, so don’t dismiss the capability of ships before you’ve upgraded a few systems.

The Target Panel

On the left-hand side of the HUD, triggered by the “1” key, the Target Panel shows the Navigation TAB, which lists local bodies and (towards the bottom) the nearby star systems in range of your Frame Shift Drive (FSD). If you select one of these, you can then engage your drive with the joystick (or keyboard) and make the jump into hyperspace. A hyperspace tunnel lasts ten seconds and drops you out close to the Nav beacon of your target star.


When you target a star, your fuel gauge shades a section in blue, indicating the amount of fuel needed for the FSD to make the jump. If there is little or none left AND the system you are travelling into doesn’t have anywhere to refuel, don’t make the jump! Remember rule #1.
You use more fuel the further you travel in one jump. Eh? What? Yes, the amount of fuel used increases with distance, so you use less fuel making 2 jumps of 8Lyrs that 1 jump of 16Lyr. Short jumps are "economic" while long jumps are "fast".

If you want to make more than one jump to get to your destination, you need to plot a route. To do this, or to see information on the target star system, you must open the galaxy map

The Galaxy Map

Open the galaxy map from the Navigation TAB of the Target Panel. This will display your current location and the nearby stars in a 3D map. I will write an article on the galaxy map, but for now we’ll concentrate on what’s needed here.

On the tool panel, there are four TABs; Info, Navigation, View and Options. Select the Navigation (2nd) TAB and enter the name of the system you want to travel to into. This moves the view to centre on the destination system.

You can then click on the system and select from the pop up menu. The options are Target, Plot and View. Target selects the star for a direct jump (not possible if too far away). View displays the system information if it is available. You want the Plot option. The route type will be determined by whether you’ve selected the economic or fast route methods.

The route is plotted as a series of orange lines.

If the lines change from solid to dotted, that leg is the point where you’ll have run out of fuel.

Remember rule #1. Don’t let that happen! Find a station on route, or purchase a fuel scoop for your ship.

When making a trip using a plotted route, the total number of jumps remaining is displayed in the Target Panel's Navigation TAB. As you make a jump, your FSD charges for 15 seconds, then counts down from 4, the jump takes 10 seconds and your FSD needs to cool for another 15, so each jump cycle takes 40 seconds.

If you jumped 30Ly per jump you'd take 2200 jumps to get to the other side of the galaxy!

Okay, so I did run out of fuel. Now what?

What did I say? Never mind. All is not lost. There are a group of players in the game who make it their mission to rescue people in your position. They are The Fuel Rats. These guys will fly to your location with fuel and get you moving again. All the information you need is on their site.

Sizes of coming ships behind the Frontier curtain

ship_size_smallOver the weekend a photo from Frontier offices, circa October 2014 surfaced. The photo was of a whiteboard concerning audio development, but posted on the corner of the whiteboard was a series of ship concept arts and ship renders.

This is where it gets interesting

Speculation alert!

From the concept art, I can identify all but the smallest ships. Interestingly the ships are all grouped by manufacturer.

The renders are all top-down. This gives us a clear indication of size, or at least the size Frontier planned.

Some of the ships are in their "early" form. The Imperial Clipper was still known as the Imperial Trader and was larger than the final Clipper became. The Courier was in the early concept stage and as we know changed a great deal in implementation.

inside secret

How big?

As you can see the Panther and Beluga top-downs show they are both longer than the Anaconda and Corvette. We are fairly certain that large pad is the hard limit of ship sizes and the pad would appear to be approximately 200m x 120m. The Beluga therefore is likely to be the same size as the Imperial Cutter and the Panther is that much larger, so probably very close to the maximum 200m long. That would make the Panther a pretty massive ship!

Panther Big


With Horizons 2.2 "Guardians" we are going to get passenger missions, so it follows that the most likely time for the Dolphin and Beluga Liner to sail into the game is in this version.

Orca and DolphinDolphin, Orca and Beluga

When will we see the Panther Clipper? Well 2.1 would be a nice surprise, but my bet is the ship and maybe some others of the same size class, are being held back for something special in 2.4. Currently passing cargo is a matter of eject-n-scoop between two ships, but with advent of super-heavy traders in the game maybe we'll see a ship-to-ship docking mechanism added for cargo (and passenger?) transfer direct.
This would allow for player-to-player cargo transfer and ships as large as the Panther could visit tiny outposts like Hutton Orbital and be unloaded by a group of Type 6 transports. It would also allow for the transfer of passengers to ships. Maybe you can take some guests to that wedding barge?

Tips for beginners: Finding your way around systems

elite_noobOkay, so I am assuming you have done the basic tutorial missions. You haven’t? Well, do them! No arguments. They teach you the basic basics. What’s the difference between this and those? The same difference between driving lessons and road experience. One gets you a licence, the other keeps you alive afterwards.

Having left a station, you want to travel the galaxy. Knowing how to get around, explore and find things and places is essential.

Modes of flight

When you leave a station you are flying in normal space. You maximum speed is dictated by your ships thrusters. In this mode of travel you can only fly around the immediate area. This may be the space around a station, a Resource Extraction Site or the area around a navigation beacon or other place of interest.

To travel further, you must travel much faster. To do this you must engage your FrameShift drive and enter super-cruise. Your drive takes 15 seconds to charge, then counts down from 5 and boom! You’re away.

You cannot fire your weapons or otherwise interact with other ships in this mode of travel, unless you have a FrameShift Interdictor, but you can scan ships to determine their identity and you can scan planets for exploration data.

As you fly away from planets, stars or other bodies their gravitational well fades and your ship accelerates. Your speed starts in km/s, but very quickly hits light speed (“c”) and can reach over 1,000 times light speed on long trips. This mode of travel is used to move around within star systems. You cannot travel between star systems using super-cruise.

The final mode of travel is hyperspace. This allows you to travel 10s of light years in a single jump that lasts only ten seconds. FrameShift engages the same way as super-cruise, but this time you must target a star system within range. Your jump-range is decided by the weight of your ship and the size and rating of your FrameShift drive. We'll look more at this when covering how to get around the galaxy.

Making an approach

In super-cruise you may see planets, stations and a variety of signal sources. You can select them as your destination by pressing the target button. Once you've done this you need to decelerate in super-cruise and get to within 1,000km of the target before you can drop back into normal space. See below.

approach radar

Things you might find in Super-Cruise

As you fly in super-cruise various things appear on your target scanner in the HUD, or on the Contacts TAB on the left instrument panel. These can all be visited by dropping into normal space and investigating.

signal types

The Criminal Elite

ranksThis is an opinion piece, so nothing in it is official, confirmed or in any design documents – it’s just a culmination of ideas.

Currently if you want to be bad in Elite: Dangerous, you kill people. Players or NPCs. Currently there is no recognition for being good at it, or consequences for being too bad.

Piracy and/or smuggling is supposed to be a career path in Elite, so I would like to see some changes on how this path is presented in the game.

Firstly, successful criminal behaviour should gain status. If we can have a rank for CQC then we sure as heck can have a “Criminal Rank”.



Okay, that sounds cool, but how would it work?

Other career paths grade you on how much you trade, or how much exploration data you collect, or how much kill-bounty you amass. The criminal career path would take into account the quantity of smuggled, stolen and black market goods, weighted by the security of the system they are sold at (high security systems score more than low security systems).

This would be augmented by the bounty on your head, which adds to the total, however if you are killed this goes down, so you could lose criminal rank. Only the most hardened and dangerous pirates and killers would make Elite.

That’s where consequences come into play.

A cargo scanner should add a “demand cargo” function to the communications panel, so pirates can easily send a message to prospective marks. This is something that should be key-bound. That way getting this message the victims know how to respond.

“A pirate is demanding you drop some of your cargo. Failure to do so will result in your ship being attacked”

If you kill someone currently, you get a 6,000CR fine and wanted status in just the local system for a period of six days, after which you can pay it off. You can kill ships (human or NPC) then avoid the “scene of the crime” and unless you get scanned with a Kill Warrant Scanner, you’re home free.

To change this, I would propose that if you kill someone the first time, the same mechanic is employed, but if you kill a second person while you have an outstanding warrant, then the outstanding fine becomes a permanent bounty and cannot be paid off. This would be repeated for each subsequent kill.

Any permanent bounty is attached to your rebuy, so if your ship is destroyed you have to pay your own bounty plus the normal rebuy to get the ship back. This means being killed as a bad guy carries a lot more risk, but it doesn’t mean you can’t still be a bad guy.

Once the local plus permanent bounty reaches a threshold value (1M CR), if you are in a Federation or Empire system the warrant would then go Federation or Empire wide.

High security systems should become just that. Any interdictions or attacks should attract an immediate and robust security response in seconds. This will push piracy into low security systems where the response is minutes, and killers into anarchy systems where they can kill pilots without any bounty on their head. Making anarchy systems dangerous and shady places.

I would at the same time, raise the value of legitimate goods (by 10% and 20%) in those systems. Best commodities markets are also in the most dangerous systems. Don’t want danger? Stay away.

Rather than a list of bad guys in stations that tells you nothing, bounty hunters should get a live feed in GalNet of the top five criminals in the area online in the same game mode - including NPC bad guys where no humans are around.

“CMDR Braben has been spotted leaving White City at Zeta Trianguli Australis eight minutes ago”

The game should generate a few persistent NPC pirates and griefers that are each local to a handful of systems. So you know if you visit the Leesti area you may well run into the mad-dog killer “Captain Ed Lewis” who’ll blow you away for kicks. Or the dread pirate “Don Antonaci” who’ll take 20T of whatever you’re carrying or else!

Finally the game needs NPC Wing Men and a method of hiring wingmen (human or NPC) at stations for a fixed fee (hourly rate) with human CMDRs getting their rebuy discounted by 25% if they die during a contract. NPC Wingmen cannot differ greatly from whatever AI is being written for ship launched fighters, so I see no insurmountable obstacles to getting this added.

Tips for beginners: Docking at stations

elite_noobOkay, so I am assuming you have done the basic tutorial missions. You haven’t? Well, do them! No arguments. They teach you the basic basics. What’s the difference between this and those? The same difference between driving lessons and road experience. One gets you a licence, the other keeps you alive afterwards.

Docking at a station is a matter of finding the access corridor (letterbox), asking permission to enter, flying inside and then finding your landing pad to land on, preferably with landing gear down.


When you drop out of super-cruise, you are for the most-part around 10km from the station. You cannot ask permission to land until you are less than 7.5km away, so get nearer!

With Orbis (wheel) stations and Ocelus (Dalek eye stalk) stations, the end that is the front is pretty obvious – it’s the big end – but with the Coriolis stations new players have trouble finding the “front”.

First thing to do is target the station – this is done for you when you request docking permission (see next paragraph for how).

station arrows

This causes your target hologram to display the station in orange (or green if you are classed as friendly). If you look carefully, on the sides of the station hologram are arrows which point to the front. finding the frontThe stations always rotate anti-clockwise, so if it’s turning clockwise you are at the back! If the station is orbiting a planet the entrance is always facing the planet.

Get around to the front and then ask to dock.

NOTE: The speed limit is 100m/s. If a policeman rams you, you'll be fined for speeding! Dirty cops…


permission to dockTo request docking, you need to open the CONTACTS tab on your left-hand panel (press “1”).

Find the station (it should be first in the list), select it and select “request docking”

You then either get permission denied, because you are too far away (or on rare occasions the pads are all busy), or you are assigned a pad number and a 10 minute countdown starts. After which time, permission to land ends.

in the green

Get lined up on the station’s centre of rotation – when you are new to the game it is easier to do this from a little further away.

Match the rotation of the entrance and head into the station, staying on the green side of the slot.

Remember to always enter and exit on the green side, no matter what way up you are.


Once inside, pads are located in lines around the station interior like staves of a barrel.
Your pad will be lit up with a holographic number. Loads are lit up?

choose a padHUD compass

Ah, well here’s a trick. The compass on your HUD that normally points to your target in space is now pointing to your landing pad. If the dot is hollow, it’s behind you (you’ve already flow over it.)

Found it? Good. Now land.


Now you’ve found your pad, get lined up and drop your landing gear. You have to position your ship over the pad with your nose pointing at the back of the pad (where the number is displayed). You cannot land facing backwards. Stations are fussy that way!

hologramGet as close as you can, then slow right down. As you get near your pad, the ship's radar view changes into a hologram of your ship above the pad. You now need to use side thrusters and vertical thrusters to position your ship on the centre of the pad, so the HUD turns blue.

Don't worry if you overshoot a little. Reverse back and try again.

As soon as you are stationary, in the “blue zone” above the pad and you are low enough, the station’s magnetic clamps grab your ship and you are docked.


Try and enter the station before asking permission. The station will start a countdown, after 30 seconds you are fined. If you are not out within 2 minutes, the station will kill you.

If you forget to request docking permission, stay calm. Stick the ship in reverse, or if you are in a small ship, fly though the entrance, flip over and fly out again.

After you have had your wrist (or bank account) smacked by station control, you must wait 10 seconds before you can ask again for docking permission.

Tips for beginners: Launching from stations

elite_noobOkay, so I am assuming you have done the basic tutorial missions. You haven’t? Well, do them! No arguments. They teach you the basic basics. What’s the difference between this and those? The same difference between driving lessons and road experience. One gets you a licence, the other keeps you alive afterwards.

When you leave the station you need to be aware of other traffic, station security and leaving the access corridor on the correct side.


Don’t fire your weapons – the station auto-guns will ventilate your hide in seconds. That polite announcer is actually a psycho killer. Don’t give them any excuse.

Don’t speed – if your gear is down, speed is limited – but if gear is up and your speed over 100m/s, any collision will result in a fine. Any serious collision will result in your summary execution.

Don’t loiter around the pad, or inside the station. The timer that ticks from when you undock is how long you have before the station kills you. No polite warnings. When the time is up, you’re toast!


The radar is your friend. It’s 3D. No really. Since 1984 no less. The triangle in the middle is you. The oval is an area around you. The triangle forward is representative of your forward view – what you can see out the cockpit window. Learn to read the radar. It’s important.

Elite: Dangerous radar

Thanks to Rolf Thomassen for pointing out the block shape indicates hard-point deployment.

When you fly out of the station access corridor (letter box) you don’t want to collide with the fast-moving lunatic in a super-massive Type 9 that will grind your Sidewinder to paste, so use the radar to look for ships in front of you heading toward you. Also, check behind. As you rise from the landing pad, there could be an Anaconda doing the same thing on the pad behind, whose pilot is reading GalNet and not looking where they are going!


The coast is clear and you want to leave. But were you parked on the ceiling, or the floor, or the wall? No gravity means “yes” to all those answers. That presents a dilemma. If the floor is the wall, the wall is the ceiling, then which way up is the door? Well those clever bods in the Pilot’s Federation thought of this. Well, actually they borrowed the idea from sailors.

When entering or exiting the station, keep right. That’s all. How do I know which side is “right”? There is a green light on that side and a red flashing light on the other. Red bad, green good. Got it? Cool. Chances of a head-on collision just went down a lot.

Elite: Dangerous station exit

Once you are outside, get clear of the station entrance. You need to be 5km away before the mass of the station stops locking your FrameShift drive from being able to jump. After that you are away!

Quick question

Q: The phone rings/baby cries/godzilla is coming and I need to quit the game in a hurry without leaving the station after I've taken off. What happens to my ship?

A: From the moment your ship leaves the pad, if you quit the game, then when you log back on, your ship will spawn, unharmed, 10km away from the station in space. You can either re-dock, or fly elsewhere.

Ship Size Comparison with real-world objects for scale

freighter_concept_thumbSince the weekend I have had the chance to add a better graphic of the Imperial Majestic Class Interdictor.

I have also had the time to lay out the ships by their category of combat, freighter, passenger or multi-purpose.

On request I have included the Scarab SRV (which is a measly 4.7m). Also on the revised diagram is a Boeing 777, because it's something large that most people have seen. The "Oasis of the Seas" which at 362m long is the world's largest cruise ship and carries 6,296 passengers, is probably the largest thing anyone may have seen and shows just how massive the larger Elite ships really are.

Place holders for the coming Elite: Dangerous ships; the Dolphin, the Beluga Liner and the Panther LX have been added with estimated sizes.

I have added the pad sizes and colour-coded ship names by pad size. There is also a scale representation of the station access corridor.

UPDATE: I've re-drawn the whole thing from scratch as vectors, so no bitmaps at all! This means I can re-draw at any resolution, so see the 4K edition of the chart below.

ship size comparison

Click HERE for full size 4096x2896 (4K) image.

ship size comparison

Click HERE for full size 2560x1440 image.

Elite ship sizes to scale for all ships post Horizons launch

conda_blueprintWith the release of the 1.5 Ships update, Elite has had an additional five ships added to the game and the previous scale diagram I'd done was was both outdated and missing several keys ships - so especially for you, I have re-drawn the whole thing using all new graphics and the most up-to-date size information.

The diagram uses a scale of 1 pixel to 1 metre.

Credit goes to Mat Ricardo (Prefim on Reddit) for creating the ship renders.

UPDATE: Now with more capital ship goodness! Thanks to ElitePvE group Mobius for helping me hunt down the Imperial Capital Ship.

Ship sizes to scale

The ship sizes are taken from here

Ship sizes table

Very large trading ships in Elite Dangerous

panther_dockingSource? Newsletter #92

Multi-Crew lets you fly in the same ship with friends, which will up the intensity and camaraderie levels of a joint mission even further! You’ll be able to share and alternate control of weapons systems, turrets and flight duties to multiply your effectiveness. Even to the extent of piloting a ship-launched fighter and working in combination with the mothership. It’ll be especially useful in some of the very large trading ships coming in season two.

Now the original Elite, way back in 1984 didn’t have any really big trade ships – the Anaconda was the largest, with the smaller Boa and Python in the mix, but there were some super-massive traders in Frontier and Frontier First Encounters. What were they?

Well, between Elite 1 and 3 the roles of these ships juggled somewhat. In Elite the Boa was smaller than the Anaconda, but by Frontier First Encounters (Elite 3) the Boa was the bigger ship.

The Panther Clipper; described as a “behemoth” in Elite 2 wasn’t the biggest in Elite 3 – that was the Lynx Bulk Carrier. How big was that? Well the Panther had a 2100T cargo capacity compare to the Lynx’s eye-watering 6000T cargo hold. A monster!

So what will the “very large trading ships” coming to Elite: Dangerous be?

We have been teased 3D renders of the Panther Clipper (called Panther LX in this incarnation) very early on during the Elite: Dangerous KickStarter, but it has been radio silence since.

Currently the biggest trade ship in ED is the Imperial Cutter which can carry (with shields) 728T of cargo. That’s only 35% of the original Panther’s capacity. Could it fit on the pad and carry that much cargo in ED? Well, no.

Panther LX

Based on the maximum dimensions of all ships, the Panther LX could be up to 192.6m L x 115.3m W x 33.4 m H and fit through the access corridor and land on a large pad. That is around 4% larger overall volume than the Imperial Cutter and would (at a 4% increase) give the Panther a 1540T hull. That would give an approximate cargo capacity of between 670 to 1104T – estimating a make-up of three Class 8, one Class 7, two Class 6, two Class 5 and one Class 4 internals. Huge.

Something we’ve not seen, even hinted at, is the return of the Boa. If based on Elite 3 this would be double the size of the Anaconda (in capacity) so would carry 936T of cargo (3 x C8, 1 x C7, 1 x C5, 1 x C3) not to be sniffed at! Based purely on volume, it could be smaller than the Corvette, say 160x114x32m and be twice an Anaconda’s capacity.

ship dimensions

Frontier could also pull something out of the bag we have not seen before. But we'll know soon, because they are coming this year to a game near you.