It seems that some probes (maybe all) switch off permanently after they lose power.

I've got a nice probe (with reaction wheels) that is just dead in space.

Is there a way to restart them?


You can transfer power from batteries just like you can with fuel. So a rescue ship with a Claw can connect to the probe. Load it with batteries, transfer enough juice to get the panels extended.

A nice efficient engine, and a go-anywhere delta-v - a handy thing to have in orbit when things go awry.


Short of launching a (possibly manned) rescue mission and connecting the probe ship to a craft that has power, no.

Mind, to even have a chance at this the original probe needs to have some kind of docking-capable ring on it in order to connect properly, but if it does and you manage to dock a rescue ship to it, both craft will be treated as one in terms of electrical power and the probe core should boot back up. Don't forget to turn the solar panels back on before detaching again, though...

  • 4
    For this reason always put a panel (the single panel you don't have to open) on the probe. At least X2 symmetry, preferably x3. That should give you enough solar power to at least control the probe core itself. Even if it ends up dead, any solar power received (automatically) will restart the probe. – Flater Apr 15 '15 at 14:40
  • @flater pretty much, but given the wording of the question I think it's a given that the probe is already heading out of orbit with zero power... – Shadur Apr 15 '15 at 15:37
  • Point taken, but it might just as well be the case that he's currently on the dark side (with panels open), or that his one solar panel is hidden behind the probe's body (away from the sun, so it'd reactivate in half a Kerbal year when the sun is on the other side). His question was about a probe being permanently dead after losing power, which isn't the case. Also, I intended it more as a future good practice than a solution for the already launched rocket :) – Flater Apr 15 '15 at 15:45
  • You can dock to any vessel without a docking port using the Advanced Grabbing Unit – Philipp Apr 17 '15 at 16:29

It depends on how the probe was designed. If it doesn't have any solar panels, docking ports, or a cockpit + some fuel, then there's no restoring power to it in the vanilla version of the game.

That being said, when designing a new probe:

  • Always add solar panels, preferably on 4-6 sides. It's possible to lose power to a probe equipped with solar panels and not get any power from them because of the orientation of the probe when it lost power.

  • Add a docking port. A separate ship/probe can dock to a dead probe and transfer power to it. Additionally, having a docking port on the probe means you can add to the probe while in space, potentially adding more batteries or solar panels.

  • Since engines also restore battery power while running, a dead probe could technically be recharged by having a kerbal climb inside a cockpit and engage the engine.


If you really want to save the probe, you can edit your save file and fill it up with electric charge. I haven't played KSP for a while so my memory is foggy and I don't have it installed on this machine to verify the save file structure, but basically:

  1. Save your game, either quicksave or a named save.
  2. Find the save file in /Saves directory (back it up in case you mess something up).
  3. Find the VESSEL by searching for its name (might be easier if you rename the probe to something unique first to avoid " Debris" vessels).
  4. Within the VESSEL definition, find a the empty electricity resource

        name = ElectricCharge
        amount = 0
        maxAmount = <some number>
  5. Set the amount to whatever you want, save the file, and load it in KSP.

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