Playing through the story in No Man's Sky, and just got to the part where I discover the distress beacon which reveals the name of Artemis. Right next to it was an abandoned ship. It had a button to "Add to Collection." I added it, then discovered that it needs a ton of repairs. I didn't see another ship in the map, although I didn't look that hard. Basically I'm asking, will I be able to get my old ship back, or will I have to struggle through and repair all the new ones. I've repaired the thrusters and hull, I think, so I should be able to get it to a station if absolutely necessary.
You are able to have 6 ships in your collection. When you come across a crashed ship and claim it, it is added to your collection. Crashed ships are usually only good for scrapping. There are chances of being a good one, but damaged modules can often incur permanent penalties even after fixing.
After you claim a crashed ship, you can simply hop back into your old ship and it will "switch primary". You can also use the utility menu to summon your old ship to bring it back and go from there.
The primary use of these crashed ships to be scrapped for money and nanites. To do this, you fix just enough of the modules to get it into space and to a station. Then scrap it at the ship upgrade terminal. You can also take a teleporter to a station while this ship is your "primary"