Complete Guide To Freighters In No Man’s Sky

Freighters have become, if not a necessity, then a must-have luxury to own in No Man’s Sky. Whether recruiting and commanding space fleets in order to increase your new passive profit margin or utilizing the instantly portable base facilities, there’s no disputing the usefulness of these spacecraft.



Related: No Man’s Sky How To Get Your First S Class Ship

If you’re a newcomer or just returning after writing off the game’s simple beginnings, here’s everything you need to know about the increasingly beneficial freighters in No Man’s Sky.

Updated September 10, 2023, by Sean Murray: The latest Echoes update for No Man’s Sky has added a brand-new type of freighter that you’ll need to fight in order to protect kind and law-abiding entities. We’ve updated this guide with info on Pirate freighters and how to fight them.

How To Get Your First Freighter For Free In No Man’s Sky

No Man's Sky freighter guide how to get space battle

The game offers you your first freighter free, and you don’t have to wait very long or jump through a hundred and one obstacles to get it. You just need to jump through a few systems to trigger your first pirate fight.

Stay alert for a distress call from a besieged freighter upon warping into each new system. If you respond to the call and successfully liberate the freighter from the assailing pirate fleet, the freighter’s captain will invite you aboard and offer you free command of the ship.

You can choose to inspect the ship upon their offer or request a different form of payment. The latter is advisable as the first freighter you rescue will be a common system freighter with the standard 19-slot capacity.

On the other hand, if you pass up this first offer, the second freighter siege you’ll run into will be a capital freighter with a 24-34 slot capacity, and its captain also offers their ship’s services as thanks.

RELATED: No Man’s Sky: Everything New In The Expeditions Update

Other Ways To Obtain Freighters In No Man’s Sky

No Man's Sky frigate freighter purchase buy recruit fleet guide

Aside from collecting on one of those gratuity debts, there are a couple of other ways to obtain freighters in No Man’s Sky.

Purchase A Freighter

When traversing through space, take note of any fleets you pass. There may be some ships among the group that are tagged with a badge (green for frigates, purple for freighters) indicating they are available for recruitment.

You merely have to fly within proximity of frigates to prompt a radio call from the prospective vessel. You can then inspect it from the comfort of your own ship and decide whether it’s worth adding to your fleet.

Obtaining a freighter, on the other hand, requires you to land on the freighter and speak with the captain. You will find them on the freighter’s bridge two floors above.

Space Battles

Warping into a Space Battle is no happenstance. These are programmed to occur every so often. Reloading will reliably respawn another freighter battle, with the chance of generating a different freighter each time.

This allows you the chance to shuffle your cards, if you will, and possibly draw a better freighter for recruitment.

See the “Pirate Freighter” section below for more information on space battles.

Standard Freighter Operations

No Man's Sky guide freighter operations terminals function facilities the bridge

Aside from inheriting one as payment for your heroic deeds, why would someone invest millions of their own hard-earned points into obtaining and customizing a freighter?

Well, building fleets, commanding frigates, and directing hands-off expeditions are the primary allures of owning a freighter. However, a portable base and expansive additional storage are major selling points as well. Even without upgrades, there are a set of standard operations freighters will always come equipped with.

Hangar Bay

The first section you will encounter in your new freighter is the hangar bay, where you will land your ship. Your freighter’s hangar is open to other NPC spacecraft as well, meaning you can trade with these other interlopers and even bargain for their ship in the same way you can at Space Stations.

Base Building Command Room

From the hangar bay, head through a set of doors and down a hallway past a set of stairs. At the end, you will find yourself in a project management room where you can oversee the layout of your freighter and the construction of new terminals.

Fleet Command Room

You’ll want to build one Fleet Command Station per Expedition you wish to deploy at once. As the game only generates five expeditions per day, you shouldn’t need more than six command rooms at a time, and certainly never more than ten.

Additional Storage

Common system freighters have a range of 15-19 slot storage capacities, while capital freighters boast 24-34 slot capabilities. You can use this project management room to build additional storage units and capitalize on your freighter’s cargo hold.

Galactic Trade Terminal

Building a trading terminal gives you instant and portable access to the Galactic Market, making transactions easier than ever.

Specialist Terminals

These vary widely from weapon stalls run by an Armorer NPC to a control room for freighter upgrades and many more. Take some time to browse the options and see what combination of facilities is most beneficial to your gameplay style.

Keep in mind some of these facilities are quest-locked behind building-themed side missions.

The Bridge

At the forefront of the hangar bay are a set of stairs extending to a hallway at the end of which sits the main command room known as the Bridge. You will command several operations from this post.


Freighters can undergo custom paint jobs, which you can apply here in the Bridge.


You will select and manage expeditions from the Bridge. These NPC-driven auto-missions are a great mechanic for passively earning money and loot. Each expedition has a certain success rate which you can bolster by sending more frigates on the same expedition run.

Manage Fleet

Along with coordinating expeditions from the Bridge, you will also manage the frigates that run them. You’ll want to recruit many frigates (30 is the max) to your fleet so you can run simultaneous expeditions and increase the success rating of their returns. When an expedition is successful, it is a chance for the participating frigates to tier up in class, ranging through C, B, A, and S. This terminal also allows you to manage your Squadron by unlocking squadron slots and upgrading pilots for Nanites.

Freighter Warp Map

This interface functions the same as the warp drive on your other ships, requiring upgrades and fueling to reap the maximum benefits.

Galactic Commissions Station

Another feature that makes freighters feel reminiscent of Space Stations, available side missions are posted to this task board. This is always worth a browse if you’ve got some free time to earn some extra rewards.

Abilities & Limitations

With hefty benefits comes the odd setback, so here is a list of a freighter’s special pros and cons.

  • You can port your freighter to your current location as you can your other ships by using the menu.
  • Each Star System has its own Super-massive freighter model, so you can reliably spawn the same style upon a return visit, though the class is subject to change.
  • Freighter owners can warp full player parties to and from Star Systems if everyone is aboard when they warp.
  • To access items from your freighter’s storage, you must be docked on your freighter.

RELATED: No Man’s Sky: How To Find Crashed Ships

Freighter Models

No Man's Sky freighter guide everything you need to know models capital system

The whole small, medium, and large classification for ships, which used to indicate a ship’s carrying capacity, has become irrelative since the Atlas Rises update back in 2017. That update made it so all system freighters can be upgraded to a storage capacity of 19 and all capital ships to 34, thus allowing players to utilize their favorite ship model, regardless of its size.

While these size classifications remain true visually, they are merely an aesthetic reference nowadays.

If you’re in the market for a freighter, do a bit of research on the specific models first, as they each come with different aesthetic and functional assets. There are nine models of system freighters and two families of capital freighters, with three models each.

Aside from storage capacity, the chief difference between system freighters and capitals is that capital freighters are built for the sieges you ultimately have to save them from, while system freighters are less battle inclined.

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Freighter Upgrades


Freighter Upgrade Modules

Plug these upgrades into either your freighter’s tech or general inventory slots to enhance frigate performance during expeditions and increase your freighter’s hyperdrive range. Below is a list of the Freighter Upgrade Modules and their range of effects.


Increases fleets’ speed during expeditions by 2-15 points.

Combat Unit

Improves fleets’ combat performance by 2-15 points.

Exploration Unit

Improves exploration results by 2-15 points.

Fuel Unit

Increases frigate fuel efficiency during expeditions by 2-20 points.

Mining Unit

Improves mining results by 2-15 points.

Trade Unit

Improves fleets’ trading success by 2-15 points.

Freighter Hyperdrive

Increases the freighter’s hyperdrive by a range of 50-250.

The magnitude of the effects depends on the class of the upgrade. C-class upgrades will be at the bottom of the spectrum, while S-class upgrades will yield better results.

Technology Blueprints

Technology Blueprints upgrade your freighter’s hyperdrive range. You can buy them at the freighter’s warping hub in the bridge. Below is a list of the Technology Blueprints and how much they increase the hyperdrive range.

  • Amplified Warp Shielding – 50
  • Chromatic Warp Shielding – 50
  • Temporal Warp Computer – 50
  • Freighter Hyperdrive – 100
  • Warp Core Resonator – 200
  • Plasmatic Warp Injector – 300
  • Reality De-threader – 800

There is also the Matter Beam technology, a console mechanic that utilizes consumable blueprints. Its purpose is to provide backup over great distances by transferring supplies to and from your exosuit.

Pirate Freighters

No Man's Sky Pirate Freighter Combat

Added in the Echoes update are pirate freighters. Also known as pirate dreadnoughts, these freighters will attack the civilian freighters with laser cannons and anti-freighter missiles alongside a swarm of smaller pirate craft.

When encountering these freighters, your HUD will present you with two bars; the red bar shows the current health of the pirate freighter, while the blue bar shows the health of the civilian freighter under attack. It’s up to you to save the merchant vessel from the predations of these awful space pirates!

Pirate Freighter Anatomy

No Man's Sky Pirate Freighter Laser Cannons

There are several notable parts of a pirate freighter that can be destroyed to aid you in battle. The first are the freighter’s engines, which can be found at the rear of the vessel. Destroying these engines will prevent the freighter from warping away once the battle turns against it.

Next are the laser cannons, which will be constantly blasting the civilian vessel. These cannons can be destroyed to slow down the degradation of the civilian vessel’s shields and hull health, preventing their destruction.

However, attacking these parts can be difficult as the entire pirate freighter is protected by a massive shield. In order to damage these components, you’ll need to fly inside the shield. There are also shield generators hidden within the pirate freighter’s hull that can be destroyed to remove the shield entirely.

Pirate freighters will also launch missiles at the civilian freighter that can do massive damage to both shields and hull. It’s important that Travellers either destroy the pirate freighter quickly or take out those missiles to keep the civilian freighter safe.

Pirate Freighter Combat Tips

No Man's Sky Pirate Freighter Trench Run

Your strategy will largely depend on how powerful a ship you’re currently piloting. If you’re in a tricked-out S-class ship with the most upgraded and best weapons available, then you can ignore everything and try to take out the pirate freighter before it can do the same to the civilian freighter. In this case, take out the pirate freighter’s engines first, then destroy the shield generators before turning on the laser cannons.

Once all these modules are destroyed, just start blasting the pirate freighter’s hull until it explodes. In this scenario, you can ignore the smaller pirate ships (or just leave them to your fleet) and the anti-freighter missiles.

You can still take out the pirate freighter if it destroys the civilian freighter, but your rewards will be significantly reduced.

If your ship isn’t the strongest, it might be more viable to first destroy the pirate freighter’s laser cannons to slow down the eventual destruction of the civilian freighter. Then destroy the engines to keep the pirate freighter from escaping, and then hit the shield generators.

Rewards For Destroying A Pirate Freighter

No Man's Sky Pirate Frigate

After destroying the pirate freighter, you’ll be awarded cargo bulkheads to expand your personal freighter, credits, nanites, and standing with the faction of whoever you saved in the civilian freighter.

You’ll also be able to recruit the pirate frigates which surround the pirate freighter. These are combat-focused vessels that can have unique bonuses compared with regular combat frigates.

Next: No Man’s Sky: Sentinel Capital Ship Combat Guide

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