Spacecraft are used to deliver supplies all the way from Earth, or bring colonists which have applied for a life of Mars. They come in two varieties, Rockets and Supply Pods. The choice of sponsors determines the number of starting Spacecraft.
Spacecraft come in two varieties: Rockets and Supply Pods. If the Space Race DLC is installed then spacecraft will come in 3 different classes, each available to different Sponsors:
Rockets will always attempt to load Rare Metals unless explicitly forbidden. Each unit of Rare Metals sent to Earth will bring Funds depending on the chosen sponsor. Cures can also be exported for 200M funds if the Wildfire Mystery was resolved.
In Space Race, Rockets can be sent to deliver resources to a Rival Colony. As they only traverse the orbit of Mars they require half as much Fuel.
The one-way travel time from Earth to Mars orbit seems to be 25 hours base, or 1 sol 1 hour. The game rule Long Ride affects this, as does the Breakthrough tech Plasma Rocket. (If both are in effect, Plasma Rocket subtracts 12.5 h flight time, not 50%.) It takes an additional 2 hours to land or take off.
Rockets are resupplied using Fuel, drones will automatically stock up the rocket from available storage depots. Multiple rockets are supplied in order of priority, then evenly otherwise. Rockets require 50 Fuel to resupply, with the Martian Engines technology reducing it to 30. Having the Paradox sponsor will cause a default of 80 Fuel, with Martian Engines reducing it to 60. Fuel refineries will normally produce 12 Fuel per sol, or 15 with the Oligarch Commander Profile. The rockets provided by the International Mars Mission Sponsor slowly generate their own fuel while landed on Mars.
Sols to refuel
From the above, assuming a single refinery, the number of sol required to refuel a single rocket:
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Supply Pod Strategy
The supply pod allows you to send 10,000 Kg of supplies or prefabs for a cost of 100 million funds to launch. When it lands you can scrap it for 5 Metal, which depending on whether the event that raises importing costs has occurred, is worth either 50 or 100 hundred million. The pods are actually a far less significant expense than it first appears. This means that depending on the circumstances the pod is either completely funding efficient or a minimal loss. They are extremely useful during the early game whenever you need a new prefab or more drones. Since they are not refuel-able if you use more of them fuel consumption can be limited. They also allow you to send supplies to outposts that lack fuel production without worrying about relaunching them, although if you are using the International Mars Mission sponsor or have the shuttle system up and running neither of the above is a concern. They are also good in case you run out of an essential resource like Food or Machine Parts during a storm because, unlike rockets, a pod can land in a dust storm.Brazil, due to it having a larger supply pod variant benefits more from this.