Undocking: It's not as simple as you think!

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It seems so simple and innocent, press the yellow button, undock from the station, and fly off into the great unknown of interstellar space. However, the actual mechanics of undocking are far more complex than you may be imagine. This article helps you to understand the mechanics of undocking and how you can use these mechanics to stay alive, or even generate killmails :)

Undock Invulnerability

When you undock from a station, you are invulnerable and cannot be targeted or attacked for 30 seconds. Your ship is not cloaked, however. You will see your ship drifting into space away from station, but any pilots camping the undock point will not be able to target lock you unless you break your own invulnerability.

Undocking invulnerability is broken when:

  • 30 seconds have elapsed
  • You activate any modules on your ship (hardeners, damage control, sensor booster, etc).
  • Initiate warp anywhere.
  • You manually align or otherwise move your ship in any direction

Note that you can activate your dscanner, the system scanner, rotate your camera around, and stop your ship from moving without breaking your invulnerability.

When you undock from a station, the station ejects you at maximum velocity. Pressing CTRL+SPACE combination on your keyboard to stop your ship will not break your undock invulnerability and keeps your ship within docking range of the station. CTRL+SPACE is your friend whenever you undock in potentially hostile situations! By undocking & then immediately pressing CTRL+SPACE, you can get eyes on who is camping the station, report this to your fleet or corp/alliance, and then safely dock back up.

However, if you panic and start initiating warp, activate any modules, or try to move away from station, your invulnerability will drop and enemy pilots will be able to lock you. If you break your invulnerability during the 10 second session change timer, the station will not allow you to dock. Then the station campers can kill you.

Stations and Docking Perimeter

Every station in game has a certain amount of space around its visible model called the docking perimeter. When your ship is inside this docking perimeter you can immediately dock to the station. When it is outside of docking perimeter it will first spend some time flying into it before docking. When you undock from most stations in EVE, you will see yourself reading to be within 0m of the station on the overview for quite some time while your ship will be moving. This is because your ship is simply traveling across station's docking perimeter.

Different stations have different amount of undocking perimeter. Under certain circumstances, knowing how much of a docking perimeter different stations have can save you your ship or alternatively get your a killmail.

  • When you are undocking from a station and using your session change timer invulnerability to assess the situation outside, it is important to be able to re-dock back up immediately without hassles once this invulnerability expires. If the station has very little amount of docking perimeter, it will only take a few seconds after undocking for your ship to end up outside of docking perimeter range and be unable to re-dock immediately. If there are hostiles sitting and camping you at the undock point, they can then webify and scramble you to prevent you from getting back to station's docking perimeter.
  • When you are trying to bump ships belonging to other people away from docking perimeter of a station it is useful to know whether that might be a fruitful or a futile task.
  • When you are jumping a capital ship to a station, you ultimately want it to end up within this station's docking perimeter. This way you only have to wait out the 10 second session change timer and then simply to dock up. If your capital ship cynos in outside of docking perimeter, it will have to spend time crawling towards the station, leaving a window of opportunity for somebody to attack it while it will be unable to dock.

Majority of stations in EVE have very generous amount of docking perimeter. This amount never changes and can be easily predicted by looking at station's visible model. One of the more notable models that you will frequently see in space is the Jita 4-4 station model. The story goes that once upon a time when Jita 4-4 station became a major trading hub, CCP got tired of people smartbombing others at the undock point. Thus they gave this station an enormous amount of docking perimter making it one of the safest models undock from or cyno capital ships to.

Examples of station models with generous amount of docking perimeter.

Alternatively there are a few stations in this game called eject stations (sometimes called 'kickout' stations) where upon undocking you will find yourself to be outside docking perimeter within just a few seconds. My ship is a white square in the picture below. You can see that upon undocking I ended up being approximately 1,800 meters outside of docking perimeter. Any station with a characteristic undocking tunnel as the one on picture below will be an eject station. These types of stations are very common to encounter in Minmatar space. This particular one belongs to Concord and is located in Pakshi system.

Typical "eject" station with elongated undocking tunnel.

Two other "eject" station models are pictured below. Model on the left side is Duvolle station in Alentene system. This model is most frequently encountered in Gallente empire and 0.0 space. Model on the right hand side is a Caldari station. This one belongs to Caldari Navy and is located in Tintoh system.

More examples of "eject" station models.

Creating an Insta-Undock Bookmark


Creating a insta-undock bookmark is basically simple. You pick fast ship, undock, press the max speed triangle, engage MWD and wait. When you have some distance from station (150+ km) you create a bookmark and be happy.

The problem is that your BM might be slightly unaligned with undock vector. Some time ago CCP implemented a random angle spread from undock vector. This random angle upon undocking, which can vary up to 5 degrees, can result in a insta-undock bookmark that isn't exactly... instant ... requiring your ship to spend a few precious seconds aligning first before warping off. This is most noticeable the further your insta-undock bookmark is away from the station. However, you can fine-tune your insta-undock bookmark using the zoom technique.

Warning: not all stations have their undock vectors aligned with axises of tactical overlay. Some Gallente and Amar bases have vertical down vectors, some stations have slight angle deviations.

When you are in hostile system, you don't even need to be on the same grid with the station to recognize it by its major structures layout to find the undock vector. Here is a zoomed view at FRP from over 4000 km distance.

4k zoom.jpg

If you already have some undock bookmarks, you might want to adjust them. When you don't zoom in, it looks like the bookmark is okay.

Unzoom unalign.jpg

But after zooming in the offset becomes apparent. If you are unlucky enough, aligning to this bookmark might kill you.

Zoom unalign.jpg

All you need is to navigate your ship to make the full line of tactical overlay marks (400 km) line straight up with the docking bay.

Zoom align.jpg


Vertical insta-undock bookmarks are the simplest to create because of the projection "dot" of the station on the tactical overlay doesn't vanish when you leave station grid. (Note: The same applies to gates and can be used to create a variety of strategic bookmarks on gates).

The procedure is quite simple - it's preferable to have station brackets active. After undocking, fly straight down. As you fly straight down, note how your ship's flight path starts to deviate from where the projection dot is. Simply keep realigning your flight path with the projection dot as you continue flying away from the station. Once you have reached your desired distance from the station, simply slowly manually fly yourself (if needed) so you are essentially on top of the projection dot, and create your bookmark.

(note sorry we don't have image here - but basically, the projection dot looks like a bright fuzzy white light) (We need to add some images here of vertical undocking projection point)