I'm doing science (career mode), and I plan to send a manned spacecraft to the Mun. It'll have some basic science instruments on it -- SC-9001 Science Jr, Mystery Goo, etc.

Assuming that I don't want to transmit the data back to Kerbin, do I need to bring these instruments back?

Ordinarily, I'd just have the capsule (including Kerbals) returning under a parachute, and I'd leave the rest of the spacecraft as interplanetary litter.

Will I be able to bring back the science from my mission in this way?


1 Answer 1


If you want the science from experiments, you must either transmit it, or return the experiments to the surface of Kerbin. The experimental equipment itself doesn't actually have to make it back to Kerbin though; A kerbonaut can retrieve the data and store it in a command pod that's headed back to Kerbin. There are some restrictions to this, though: you can't store multiple copies of the same experiment/biome/altitude combination, and I haven't seen a way of removing research data from a mobile lab. As a side note, you can store multiple crew reports by performing an EVA, taking the data from the command module, and then returning to the module.

Your experiments also don't have to be attached to the capsule when you return ‒ you can recover experiments returned as debris by disconnecting a science stage from a capsule; however this may be impractical due to limitations of the game where after a certain threshold, debris (or even whole aircraft/spacecraft) will be unloaded when in atmosphere, but it does mean that you don't need to perform an EVA to retrieve the data.

Some science experiments also have a transmission cap where as little as 25% of the data can be transmitted back to Kerbin; eventually, experiments must be returned to max out available science. However, when return is non-trivial, taking the hit in transmission might be worth it (for instance, if the target is the surface of Tylo or Eve). Take a look at the science wiki page for more information.

  • I think with recent update yes, you lose a significant part of science by not returning to Kerbin, just transmitting. Designed as a motivator for return flights, as I understood. Consider answer update?
    – Mołot
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 15:06
  • Yes, you are correct. A lot of stuff has changed, so it'll have to wait until I get home from work before I can do a reasonable job at updating the answer.
    – MBraedley
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 15:13

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