Elite Dangerous Docking Guide
Docking is a fundamental aspect of Elite Dangerous and this guide will provide some basics on how to dock in Elite Dangerous:
- When you are near the station you want to dock at, try to find the airlock entrance!
- This sounds easy but can be challenging sometimes on Coriolis stations as each side looks alike!
- A handy hint is to fly with the station above you and use the cockpit free look controls to look at the station as you fly by. You could also temporarily disable flight assist to turn and look around too.
- Stations always rotate anti-clockwise when you are facing the airlock, so watch the rotation to help work out the location of the airlock.
- The easiest way to locate the side of the station with the airlock it to lock target on it. Aim the center of the screen at the station, or look at it in headlook mode, and press Select target ahead (T by default). The station will appear to the left of your radar, and will have two arrows pointing in the direction of the airlock.
- To avoid the hassle of having to identify where the airlock is, always approach the station from the planet side. While in supercruise, point your ship to the space between the planet and your destination, then turn towards the station until it's time to disengage.
- When you have identified the entrance, try to position yourself some distance away from the entrance (e.g. 3 or 4 KM away) so that you have plenty of space to make sure you are aligned. Approaching the airlock at a steep angle means your will have a harder job at aligning your ship.
- Switch to your Target panel and request docking clearance from the station.
- When you have clearance, proceed directly towards the bright blue airlock, rolling your ship as appropriate to align with the air lock as the station rotates. Keep speed fairly low - perhaps around about 20 or 30m/s.
- In small ships such as the sidewinder, alignment is not critically important as you can fit through with any rotation.
- Green light represents the side of the airlock for your flight direction (docking or undocking). While not overly important, it should still be observed — you might sometimes find yourself flying right into an oncoming freighter. Colliding with traffic in the station no-fire zone results in fines for reckless flying. If you accidentally ram and destroy any ship near the station, it will open fire and destroy your ship.
- Once you are through the airlock, look at the pad number you have been assigned (it will be above your scanner and shows the number of the pad and your time remaining). Note that the pad might be above you!
- Fly directly towards the pad, rotating so that it is below your ship if needed.
- Slow down to 10m/s as you approach the pad, and pitch up to face the pad buildings so that the pad is directly beneath your ship.
- When you get close enough your scanner will display the landing alignment view.
- At this point deploy your landing gear (default is the “insert” key) and reduce speed to 2 to 5m/s
- Use you lateral trusters to align your ship and cut the speed to 0m/s when you are centrally aligned.
- Now that you are aligned and stationary use your ship's up and down thrusters to slowly lower your ship down onto the pad.
- When you have successfully landed on the pad the stations menu will appear. Congratulations!
Tips and Tricks
- If your ship is equipped with shields, do not worry about hitting the landing pad with excessive speed. The shield will absorb collision damage (to reasonable extent, of course).
- Your ship rotates fastest around its roll (front-to-back) axis, a bit worse around pitch (left-to-right) and worst - around yaw (vertical) axis. This formulates an effective trick for docking when you approach the landing pad from wrong direction or miss it. Instead of going around you can simply stop over the landing pad, turn so that it is either on your left/right or directly in front (“face down”). Then use pitch or roll respectively to quickly realign your ship with the docking direction. A good landmark to easily find the right direction is the “control building” with a rotating radio dish on top - it should always be in front of you.
The Docking Computer in Elite Dangerous partially automates docking at stations that support it, taking you safely down to the landing pad. Currently the flight path chosen by the docking computer can be unpredictable and lead to some very unusual flying!
A docking computer takes up a module slot and can be slower than normal.
- Target the station as normal
- Get the blue airlock into view (you can't activate the docking computer without 'seeing' the air lock)
- Request docking clearance
- The docking computer will automatically activate once you have clearance and your ship's speed is set to zero (it doesn't seem to actually need to be zero, just set to zero - default key “x”).
- Sit back and watch!
The docking computer can be cancelled by accelerating.