Upgrading your ship

After-while - when you get used to the basics, you find that you want to improve your ship. You may think the only way to do that is by getting a new ship, however all ships come with upgradable sub-systems. For example, you may find that your ship doesn't have enough power to keep everything running when you deploy your weapons, however if you upgrade your ship's power plant then this solve this problem without buying a new ship.

All ships come with basic subsystems which do the bare minimum. In combat these subsystems can be targeted and crippled if the attacker hits the correct section of the ship. Destroying the power-plant of a ship will lead to an explosion. Below is a list of various sub-systems and what they do;

Module Power Plant The power plant is the single most important sub-system, as if this is destroyed the ship will explode. Its normally located just above or below the cockpit, making it hit to hit. The power plant uses fuel to generate energy for the rest of the ship. So bigger/better the power-plant, the more power for things like weapons. However if your Power Plant is big enough to supply enough power, then you will see little improvement from upgrading it.
Module Thrusters There's not much that can be said for thrusters - they allow you to move your ship from side to side. Better the thrusters, the more manoeuvrability. They also give you a sligh speed boost too.
Module Frame Shift Drive Another important system, the Frame Shift Drive handles both super-cruise and hyperspace travel. It is normally located around the back of the ship. If destroyed could leave you out-of-the-middle-of-no-where. Upgrading this system can lead to longer jump-ranges and lower power-usage. I highly recommended fitting the largest one you can on, as soon as possible.
Module Life Support Life-Support creates breathable air for you when travelling around space. If this system is destroyed, then you will only have a limited around of oxygen before you die. Upgrading the Life Support can increase the amount of time before you die. I would only suggest fitting class D, unless for special reasons.
Module Power Distributor Once your ship has generated the energy, the Power Distributor assigns where the power goes, ie. Systems (SYS), Engines (ENG), or Weapons (WEP). Upgrading this module allows you to divert more energy from the ships reactor to the various systems, and increase recharge and bank sizes. If you got the energy spare, then its well worth doing.
Module Sensors Sensors provide information to your ship such as the radar. Upgrading your sensors allows you to scan further distances. I would usually suggest fitting D class, as they are slightly better than the standard ones and are a little lighter.
Module Fuel Tank When travelling around the solar-system you need fuel to power your ship and hyperspace drive. Increasing the tank size will mean you can go longer distances before having to refuel. Normally the biggest tank is installed by default. You can also increase the fuel-tank size by fitting extra tanks in your internal compartments.
Module Shields Not technically a subsystem but just as important. Shields provide protection from incoming attacks, stronger / faster they are, the more protection they provide. After they fail, you will get hull damage and can suffer from subsystem damage. I would suggest fitting shield boosters to use-up any spare power.

Each of the above sub-systems are upgradable and can major differences to your ship. So before wanting a new ship, maybe check out some upgrades first.

I also want to say there are other sub-systems (such as the cockpit) which can be targeted and destroyed, but not upgradable (just repairable).
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