Elite Dangerous – Station Approach Advice

I had every intention of discussing what I was working on, but that’s earning money for a new ship. I make most of my cash doing transport missions, which honestly isn’t super exciting to talk about most of the time. Instead I think I’ll go over a few handy tips since Blaugust has some Elite newcomers.

1 – Approach Speed

So something I often found challenging was approaching a station/beacon/signal source in supercruise. It’s so easy to blow past these things due to excessive speed that I still do it regularly. It only takes one glance away.

aproach speed

The magic number here is 7 seconds. That number on the bottom is an estimate time until arrival. Your ship will attempt to slow you down on approach, but if that number goes under 7 seconds you’re almost certainly going to blow past it. I’ve recovered from 5-6 before, but even the recovery typically requires going past it and coming about.

My normal method is to watch and when it gets to be around 8-9 I’ll throttle down till it starts going up then slowly throttle back up to 7 seconds.

This number can also lie to you. If you’re approaching from the planet side of the station the gravity well of the moon/planet will reduce your speed. You can be at full throttle and still more than 7 seconds, but as you get closer to the station and further from the gravity source you’ll start gaining speed quickly and it’s easy to over-do it.

2 – Approach Orientation

One thing I also discovered quickly is that which side of the station you drop on depends on the direction you approached it from. This isn’t that big a deal for the small outposts due to the open landing pads, but can really be irritating for the larger coriolis, orbis, or ocellus stations.

These coriolis stations are everywhere.

All three of these have a long slot opening in the center of one end/face that is affectionately known as the “mailslot.” You can just barely see the mailslot on this station on the upper right face.

Fortunately, there is a way to know what to expect when you drop. There’s a holographic projection of what you have targeted that is displayed as it lies from your position.

station hologram
Station Hologram

You can use this to see where the mailslot is going to be in relation to you. I’ll often circle around the large stations and try to drop in at least in view of the mailslot.

3 – Once you drop

Other things I leanred much later.  There is an indicator in the lower right corner that only displays when you’re breaking law/regulations of some kind. The “speeding” one is something I’ve often seen, and space traffic control will occasionally complain if you’re going over the “speed limit.” This speed is 100m/s. There are no immediately obvious drawbacks to speeding.

The only time this comes into play is collision with other ships. If you’re speeding and you collide with or so much as tap or graze another ship, you will receive a 100 credit “Reckless Flying” fine.

4 – Entering and Exiting the Station

Only a few things to say here. Going slow/stopping in the mailslot is “loitering.” You move before time runs out or you get killed. Getting to close to other landing pads is also loitering.

The mailslot, going both in and out has a green lights on one side and red lights on the other. You’re technically supposed to stay to the green side, though this can be difficult when there’s a Beluga or Type-9 stuck in the slot. Early on you should consider it good just to get through the slot at all.

5 – Practice

The whole flight sim/immersion aspect of Elite is quite overwhelming at first. A lot of these things begin to come naturally after a while, but mistakes and missteps will happen. A few weeks ago I flew into three different station without requesting docking permission first. During the same play session. One of those times I cleared with exit with only four seconds left to vacate, and as with many crimes in Elite, I believe the punishment is summary execution.

Stay safe commanders, follow the green on your way out.

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