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Best Ships For Exploration In Elite Dangerous

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Best Ships For Exploration In Elite Dangerous

Highlights

  • The Hauler is a cheap option with low performance, making it ideal for accessibility in Elite Dangerous exploration.
  • The Federal Corvette offers decent handling and internals for combat potential, with a jump range in the higher-40s.
  • The Anaconda is the best exploration ship, offering massive jump ranges and ample space for various activities in the game.

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Exploration is one of the many activities players can spend their time doing in Elite Dangerous. The game’s galaxy is huge with lots of sights to see and places to visit. As a result, many players simply enjoy traipsing around the universe seeing what they can find in this simulation game.

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The nature of this activity requires players to be in a ship capable of handling long-distance travel, carrying everything they need for the trip, and helping them survive the journey. For players looking to get into travel or need to upgrade to something a little better, here are the best exploration ships according to the fanbase.

Updated March 1, 2024 by Rhenn Taguiam: With Ubisoft teasing Project Over for its 2025 Ghost Recon lineup, fans of space travel who are into more realistic travel experiences should still grab Elite Dangerous, particularly for its penchant for grandiose spacefaring adventures. Given the game’s attention to detail, fans who want a chill time in Elite Dangerous’ accurate depiction of the galaxy should look into the title’s options for exploration ships for the best experience.

Among must-rides for these ships include those that specialize in transportation, have decent internals given their price point, as well as some of the best ships for exploration available in their respective classes and manufacturers.

19 Hauler

Cheap Option For Those Who Can Settle For Low Performance

Hauler

Type (Cost, Insurance)

Freighter (52K, 2K)

Available Slots, Utilities

6, 2

Shield Value

86

Frame Shift Drive (Scoop Value)

2 (3)

Jump Range (Fully-Fueled, no cargo)

43.1ly

Despite its lack of technical prowess, the rather cheap but maneuverable nature of the Hauler makes it an ideal exploration ship simply for its accessibility. Players enjoying their Elite Dangerous playthrough could rely on the Hauler to get most of their jobs done while they earn money to save up for something more efficient.

Although the Hauler does have room for an SRV Hangar, the 5LY-range cost might be a dealbreaker for players. Its small frame only allows it to carry lower-level Fuel Scoops and Fuel Tanks, making overall travel rather slow. While its base stats make it a decent bubble-hopper, the Hauler suffers performance issues in the long haul as players expect more trips and more resource gatherings, but they hopefully have moved on from the Hauler by then.

18 Federal Corvette

Decent Handling & Internals For Its Size With Combat-Ready Components For Surprise Incursions

Federal Corvette

Type (Cost, Insurance)

Combat (188M, 9.4M)

Available Slots, Utilities

11, 8

Shield Value

275

Frame Shift Drive (Scoop Value)

6 (7)

Jump Range (Fully-Fueled, no cargo)

47.6ly

Players who want a ship that remains combat-ready despite its exploration potential could appreciate the Federal Corvette. It belongs to the Combat Type ship class, meaning it’s designed to handle prolonged aggressive incursions compared to other exploration ships designed for speed.

At its core, the Federal Corvette boasts decent internal systems and manageable handling for a ship its size. Given its combat-heavy focus, its jump range suffers from being in the higher-40s range. However, considering how some exploration trips might send players contending with malicious forces, being combat-ready with some form of defensive armament could make the Federal Corvette a decent choice.

17 Federal Assault Ship

Average Jump Range Still Makes It The Best Among Federal Military Ships

elite dangerous federal assault ship

Type (Cost, Insurance)

Combat (19.8M, 990K)

Available Slots, Utilities

7, 4

Shield Value

120

Frame Shift Drive (Scoop Value)

5 (5)

Jump Range (Fully-Fueled, no cargo)

50.1ly

The Federal Assault Ship is one of the more unique options on this list because it’s not designed for exploration. It doesn’t have the same internal space to carry everything and the low-end jump range is 30LY. The perk of this vessel as an exploration ship is it can handle any trouble it comes across. This makes it an ideal ship for exploring near the bubble where players in this MMORPG are likely to be waiting in an ambush. If the player needs to go long-range it is not a great ship, but for high-risk, short-range travel it’s great.

The Federal Assault Ship can be purchased at the Jameson Memorial with the standard 10% discount. It is also always located at the i Sola Prospect with a 20% surcharge. The base cost is a relatively cheap 19,814,210 Credits.

16 Imperial Cutter

Manageable Jump Range With Slow Steering, Slight Drifting Quirks

Imperial Cutter

Type (Cost, Insurance)

Multipurpose (208M, 10.45M)

Available Slots, Utilities

10, 8

Shield Value

309

Frame Shift Drive (Scoop Value)

7 (8)

Jump Range (Fully-Fueled, no cargo)

51.9ly

Players who want to travel in style in their Elite Dangerous gameplay can appreciate the visual flair of the Imperial Cutter. Being a Multipurpose Ship, the Imperial Cutter isn’t sensitive to slight changes in movement, and its optional slots can encourage players to fit it with whatever extra armaments and materials they might need in their journey.

However, players who want to use the Imperial Cutter solely for exploration might not appreciate the view as much with its more condensed appearance. While its visibility is still respectable for its ship class, the Clipper remains more visually “open” in terms of vantage points.

15 Cobra MkIII

Iconic Elite Ship With Decent Thrusters But So-So Jump Range

Cobra MkIII

Type (Cost, Insurance)

Multipurpose (349K, 17K)

Available Slots, Utilities

8, 2

Shield Value

77

Frame Shift Drive (Scoop Value)

4 (4)

Jump Range (Fully-Fueled, no cargo)

54.4ly

Beginners who are just exploring their Elite Dangerous gameplay may want to try a ship that fits the jack-of-all-trades category, which is something the Cobra MkIII can pull off. Its decent Fuel Tank despite its small frame gives it the capacity to give a few jumps before needing to refuel, making it a decent multipurpose ship for everyday tasks such as trading and exploration.

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However, the Cobra MkIII isn’t suitable for long-term exploration due to its small jump range. In turn, the Cobra MkIII makes for a decent middle ground for players still gauging what kind of endgame they want to enjoy in Elite Dangerous and then transitioning to a more optimal ship from there.

14 Beluga Liner

Decent Maneuverability For Its Size With Many Internal Slots For Other Features

elite dangerous beluga liner

Type (Cost, Insurance)

Passenger Liner (84.5M, 4.2M)

Available Slots, Utilities

12, 6

Shield Value

123

Frame Shift Drive (Scoop Value)

7 (6)

Jump Range (Fully-Fueled, no cargo)

54.6ly

What makes the Beluga Liner appealing as an exploration ship is the fact that it has enough space to bring whatever the player wants to take with them. It’s a bit slow, but it does handle decently enough, and few can argue with a 40 to 50LY jump range. Some players like the fact that it can also equip a Fighter Hangar. While it’s not an ideal combat ship, it can hold its own long enough to get to safety. What many players like about the Beluga is its big, unobstructed view in the cockpit.

The Beluga Liner can be found at Jameson Memorial with a 10% discount. It can also be bought at i Sola Prospect with a 20% surcharge. Its base cost is 84,532,780 Credits.

13 Alliance Chieftain

The Best Jumper Among Alliance Mediums But Limited In Offerings

Alliance Chieftain

Type (Cost, Insurance)

Combat (19.3M, 969K)

Available Slots, Utilities

6, 4

Shield Value

80

Frame Shift Drive (Scoop Value)

5 (6)

Jump Range (Fully-Fueled, no cargo)

56.5ly

Despite its turtle-like appearance, the Alliance Chieftain can pack quite a punch when used to its fullest extent as a Combat Ship. While retrofitting it as an exploration vessel may hinder the Alliance Chieftain with its lack of internal components, the ship can still be a player’s dependable asset with the right build.

At its core, the Alliance Chieftain boasts the best jump range among the medium ships of the Alliance. Players out for a certain aesthetic or fans of the Alliance line of ships, in general, may want to grab the Chieftain if they have any plans of transitioning the ship to an exploration role.

12 Imperial Clipper

Mid-Jump Range Compensated By Fastest Potential Scooping Speed Among Ships

elite dangerous imperial clipper

Type (Cost, Insurance)

Multipurpose (22.2M, 1.11M)

Available Slots, Utilities

9, 4

Shield Value

79

Frame Shift Drive (Scoop Value)

5 (7)

Jump Range (Fully-Fueled, no cargo)

56.6ly

The Imperial Clipper is both a popular and notorious ship. Many pilots like the excellent speed and maneuverability that come with flying this piece of art. It can handle long-range jumps and does well at getting players from point A to point B quickly. The downsides are little things like a bright cockpit interface, a wide build that can make manual docking annoying, and terrible combat potential. It’s cheap and it’ll do the job which is why it makes the list, but players should strongly consider upgrading quickly.

The Imperial Clipper is always available at the Jameson Memorial station in Shinrarta Dezhra with a 10% discount. It can also be obtained at the i Sola Prospect in Brestla with a 20% surcharge. Its base cost is 22,295,860 Credits.

11 Python

Decent Internals With Mid But Tolerable Performance

elite dangerous python

Type (Cost, Insurance)

Multipurpose (56.98M, 2.85M)

Available Slots, Utilities

10, 4

Shield Value

131

Frame Shift Drive (Scoop Value)

5 (6)

Jump Range (Fully-Fueled, no cargo)

60.2ly

The Python is not meant to be an explorer ship, but it does a fantastic job when outfitted for it. It has a great long jump range and even when fully equipped has the space for weapons and shields. In fact, the Python is scrappy enough to handle many combat situations. Players wanting to use exploration as a means to hunt down targets would be well advised to give this ship a try. Power management will be an issue and the cockpit layout is a bit strange, but it’s a good choice.

The Python appears in various stations now and then but consistently in two places. Jameson Memorial has one with a 10% discount and i Sola Prospect will offer one with a 20% surcharge. It’ll cost players 56,978,180 Credits to buy.

10 Type-7 Transporter

Python Alternative But With Certain Limitations To Visibility

Type 7 Transporter

Type (Cost, Insurance)

Freighter (17.4M, 873K)

Available Slots, Utilities

10, 4

Shield Value

78

Frame Shift Drive (Scoop Value)

5 (6)

Jump Range (Fully-Fueled, no cargo)

61.2ly

Despite its bulky appearance, the Type-7 Transporter as a transportation vehicle prides itself in having a similar internal modular frame as the Python, albeit with a much-larger optional slot. Surprisingly for its status as a cargo ship, too, is the ship’s decent maneuverability and handling, making it a dependable exploration ship in both slow trips and crucial situations.

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While its jump speed isn’t as impressive, players who want to transport other vessels or explore to mine resources could use the Type-7 Transporter for a more consistent experience. This is especially the case in interstellar trips that won’t reach as far as Colonia – but even then the Type-7 Transporter could be a patient player’s companion for such a long-distance incursion.

9 Asp Scout

Not As Optimal For Deep Space Encounters, But Excellent For Interplanetary Adventures

Asp Scout

Type (Cost, Insurance)

Multipurpose (3.9M, 198K)

Available Slots, Utilities

7, 2

Shield Value

136

Frame Shift Drive (Scoop Value)

4 (5)

Jump Range (Fully-Fueled, no cargo)

61.5ly

While certainly no Asp Explorer, the Asp Scout still boasts remarkable speed and maneuverability as associated with its manufacturer. The Asp Scout’s performance is only hindered by its lower-class FSD, which in itself is still just one class lower than the Explorer’s. However, the Asp Scout’s handling makes it a famous short-range exploration craft, especially for players who want to explore specific planets but not within necessarily too distant ranges.

Even then, players can take the Asp Scout out for a spin if they want to fully appreciate its flight-handling characteristics. The Asp Scout will feel much lighter to control compared to the Asp Explorer, although the latter does have the advantage of a more efficient jump process.

8 Type-6 Transporter

Average Jump Performer With Decent Maneuverability

Type 6 Transporter

Type (Cost, Insurance)

Freighter (1.04M, 52K)

Available Slots, Utilities

8, 3

Shield Value

99

Frame Shift Drive (Scoop Value)

4 (5)

Jump Range (Fully-Fueled, no cargo)

61.6ly

At first glance, the Type-6 Transporter and its classification as a Freighter make it more of a beginner Elite Dangerous trading ship, making it unideal for strenuous exploration duties. However, the Type-6 Transporter may surprise players should they try stripping it down and upgrading its FSD, as this gives the Type-6 jump ranges similar to that the of Asp.

Given the chance, the Type-6 Transporter has quite a lot of internal slots that players can tinker with for their ideal exploration loadout. However, the only dealbreakers here would be the extensive customization the Transporter needs to be optimal for exploration, as well as a price point that’s much higher than the similarly-performing Cobra MkIII.

7 Dolphin

Average Performance Is Decent For Its Price Point

Dolphin

Type (Cost, Insurance)

Passenger Liner (1.3M, 66K)

Available Slots, Utilities

9, 3

Shield Value

132

Frame Shift Drive (Scoop Value)

4 (5)

Jump Range (Fully-Fueled, no cargo)

64.1ly

Space explorers who love getting both frugal and technical with their Elite Dangerous gameplay may appreciate the versatility of the Dolphin. Although not as potent as other ship counterparts, the Dolphin is arguably one of the best mid-game exploration ships that could take players wherever they need to be while saving up for more specific Elite Dangerous setups.

Technically speaking, what the Dolphin lacks in sheer speed it makes up with flexibility and handling. It’s one of the easier ships to land, making it much easier to prep for the next jump. Similar to the Phantom, it has 9 Mod Slots while at the same time possessing one of the largest scoops in a ship. Dealbreakers here would be its Size 4 FSD Booster, meaning it can’t use the more potent V1 5A FSD of more powerful ships.

6 Krait Mk II

Trades Jump Range For Better Internals Vs Krait Phantom

Best Ships For Exploration In Elite Dangerous

Type (Cost, Insurance)

Combat Multipurpose (45.8M, 2.29M)

Available Slots, Utilities

9, 4

Shield Value

117

Frame Shift Drive (Scoop Value)

5 (6)

Jump Range (Fully-Fueled, no cargo)

67.0ly

The Krait MK II is a multipurpose ship that makes it very customizable for its pilot’s needs. It’s a balanced exploration ship that can also do a bit of trading, mining, and combat while exploring. It has convenient hardpoints, and with a Fighter Hangar, it ensures it has teeth while roaming. This is a good option for players on limited funds who like to do a variety of things and cannot afford to have a specialized ship for each activity. Considering it was designed to do smuggling and short-range high-risk trading, it makes sense it can handle sketchy exploration.

The Krait Mk II appears at different stations for purchase. The guaranteed spots are Jameson Memorial with a 10% discount and the i Sola Prospect with a 20% surcharge. The price tag on this ship is 45,814,205 Credits.

5 Orca

Jack Of All Trades In Terms Of Exploration Stats

Best Ships For Exploration In Elite Dangerous

Type (Cost, Insurance)

Passenger Liner (48.5M, 2.42M)

Available Slots, Utilities

9, 4

Shield Value

127

Frame Shift Drive (Scoop Value)

5 (6)

Jump Range (Fully-Fueled, no cargo)

68.5ly

The Orca is a stylish passenger liner that can be outfitted however the player wants. It has good handling for its size, great speed, and good acceleration. Its underbelly hardpoints and mediocre shields and armor make it a poor choice in combat, however. What makes the Orca appealing is the 36LY jump range and the fact it costs less than 50 million credits. For long-range jumping to deliver VIPs, it’s a great ship that looks sleek, but there are better options for traveling space.

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The Orca was relatively easy to find in March 2019, but it doesn’t appear outside of the usual two stations these days. Players can pick one up with a 10% discount at Jameson Memorial or pay a 20% surcharge to get on at i Sola Prospect. Its base cost is 48,539,887 Credits.

4 Krait Phantom

The Better AspX With Trade-Offs In Supercruise Maneuverability

Best Ships For Exploration In Elite Dangerous

Type (Cost, Insurance)

Multipurpose (37.4M, 1.87M)

Available Slots, Utilities

9, 4

Shield Value

116

Frame Shift Drive (Scoop Value)

5 (6)

Jump Range (Fully-Fueled, no cargo)

72.2ly

The Krait Phantom is basically a faster and leaner version of the Krait Mk II. It sacrifices some durability in exchange for speed and maneuverability. With the right set up it also has phenomenal long jump ranges. The original intent of this ship was to chase down pirates or wanted targets, so it has the speed and firepower to get a drop on opponents. The only reason it doesn’t rank higher is that it’s not designed to survive an ambush, which happens a lot in this MMORPG.

The Krait Phantom isn’t very common outside the usual stations. It’s always found at Jameson Memorial with a 10% discount on price or i Sola Prospect with a 20% surcharge. Purchasing one will typically set the player back 37,472,254 Credits.

3 Diamondback Explorer

2nd-Best Jump Range Compensates For Low Fuel Scoop Speed

elite dangerous diamondback explorer

Type (Cost, Insurance)

Combat Explorer (1.89M, 94.7M)

Available Slots, Utilities

8, 4

Shield Value

97

Frame Shift Drive (Scoop Value)

5 (4)

Jump Range (Fully-Fueled, no cargo)

74.1

The nice thing about the Diamondback Explorer is that it’s small so finding a landing pad is never an issue. It has excellent long jump range and can go fast when outfitted properly making it great for exploring the massive world. It’s good at dodging combat but bad at engaging in combat and mining is utterly out of the question.

The main advantage of the Diamondback Explorer is that it’s cheap and available as soon as players log into the game. Many players have logged an incredible number of hours flying this ship around the galaxy and aren’t in a hurry to upgrade.

The Diamondback Explorer hasn’t been seen in many stations lately. The usual spots are the Jameson Memorial at 10% off or i Sola Prospect with a 20% added cost.

2 Asp Explorer

Best Visibility, High Supercruise Maneuverability

elite dangerous asp explorer

Type (Cost, Insurance)

Multipurpose (6.661M, 333K)

Available Slots, Utilities

8, 4

Shield Value

83

Frame Shift Drive (Scoop Value)

5 (6)

Jump Range (Fully-Fueled, no cargo)

70.4ly

The Asp Explorer was built with exploration in mind. It has perhaps one of the best long-range jump capabilities available and is more than capable of equipping essential modules. For many players, this is the best ship for exploring space as it has the best unobstructed canopy in the game. The only reason it doesn’t rank number one is that exploration is the only thing it can reliably do. It can go toe-to-toe with lighter craft in combat and can trade to some extent, but it was meant to zip around the galaxy without getting into trouble.

The Asp Explorer was everywhere in late 2020, but now players will need to go to two stations to pick one up. Jameson Memorial has them with a 10% discount or i Sola Prospect will sell them with a 20% surcharge. It’s a very affordable exploration ship, costing 6,661,153 Credits.

1 Anaconda

Excellent Jump Range And Internals Compensate For Lack Of Maneuverability

Best Ships For Exploration In Elite Dangerous

Type (Cost, Insurance)

Multipurpose (147M, 7.35M)

Available Slots, Utilities

12, 8

Shield Value

193

Frame Shift Drive (Scoop Value)

6 (7)

Jump Range (Fully-Fueled, no cargo)

83.6ly

Hands down, the best ship in the game for exploring is the Anaconda. This beast can perform massive 80+ LY jumps and has more than enough space to equip anything the player could ever possibly want or need. It is rather large and somewhat cumbersome to maneuver at times, however. There’s also the fact that the Anaconda comes with a steep price tag of almost 147 million credits, but this is an exploration ship that can be designed for any possible purpose whatsoever. The player can reasonably mine, fight, and trade while exploring. Even for passive explorers, it will scare off other players and can handle most threats the galaxy throws at them.

The Anaconda will appear in various stations now and then, though it was much more common in 2019. There is always one at Jameson Memorial for 10% off or a more expensive one at i Sola Prospect with a 20% additional cost. It’s by far the most expensive ship on the list with a whopping price tag of 146,969,450 Credits.

Elite Dangerous

Elite Dangerous

Released
December 16, 2014

Genre(s)
Flight Simulator

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