Space Engineers Survival Challenge: Part 6

I’ve set myself a challenge, playing the PC game Space Engineers in ‘survival mode’. Stranded alone on an unpopulated planet, I must struggle to survive and escape my isolation using only my wits and the resources to hand.

If you missed the last episode in this series, you can catch up here.


I’ve been doing a lot of work on my base lately, and I’ve added a garage to park my vehicles in. I’ve lost several solar panels to meteor strikes, so I’ve incorporated some new ones into the garage roof.

Setting up this base has taken a surprising amount of resources, and I’m starting to realize just how much stuff I’m going to need if I’m ever going to build a ship and get off this rock. I know there’s a lot of metal around here, but most of it is buried deep underground, so it’s time to get serious about mining.

Day 10

If I’m going to get my hands on all the ore buried beneath the desert’s surface, I’m going to need a beast of a mining ship!


I’ll need to move a lot of dirt to get to the good stuff, so I’m going to build a large rig with lots of drills. I’ve seen other people try their luck with wheeled vehicles and drills mounted on articulated arms, but that doesn’t seem to work very well. Instead, I’m going to build a flying rig with downward facing drills on its underbelly. I’m thinking more of an open-cast approach to mining so as to avoid getting my equipment stuck in mine shaft.


After building my hover bike, I know that this is going to need a lot of large atmospheric thrusters and a lot of power to lift the heavy drills and (hopefully) cargo containers full of ore. So I’m starting with two large reactors and a chassy that will allow me to add one large thruster for each drill.


Jumping into my cockpit for the first time, I’m surprised to find myself suffocating. I might be on a planet with an oxygen atmosphere but the air tight cabin still needs an air supply. Rather than carry oxygen bottles with me every time I go mining, I decide to add a bulky oxygen generator unit to the ship. This way, any ice I drill through will automatically be split into hydrogen and oxygen.

Day 11

Welding together all these drills and thrusters requires a huge amount of motors and steel tubes, so I have to take my rover out on another shopping trip.

Day 12



This ship reminds me a little of Starbug from Red Dwarf, so I’ve decided to name it the ‘Gravel Bug’.

The gravel bug features retractable landing gear (mounted on ‘piston’ blocks) which can be neatly tucked away during mining operations. Another nifty feature is the ‘ejector’ in the nose, which can be used to empty any of the four large cargo containers. Two small cargo containers in the rear provide easy access to bug’s inventory via a network of conveyor tubes.

Time to take her for a spin!


I’ve selected a spot on the frozen lake to test the drills, since it’s perfectly flat and I know there’s uranium buried under there.


At first it works like a charm. But when I decide to see what happens if I turn the engines off, things go catastrophically wrong.


Without engine power, the Gravel Bug quickly digs itself deep into the ice and begins to list to one side, breaking two of its drills and one of its engines.


Well, at least now I know to keep the engines on.

I limp back to base and begin making the necessary repairs, confident about my future mining ventures, but later that evening this happens…


A meteor strikes the ground beneath the ‘bug, causing her to fall backwards rather ungraciously onto her derrière. And when I try to lift her up onto solid ground she ends up flat on her back.


Day 13

I’ve spent the entire day rescuing the Gravel Bug from a life spent kicking its legs in the air like an upturned tortoise. I had to temporarily add some additional engines, drift it out to a safe distance over the lake and, with clenched buttocks, flip it over like a pancake.

I also spent some time chasing it around the desert having left some of the thrusters on, but the less said about that the better.

Day 14

With my mining ship restored to its original state of perfection, I can finally begin my mining efforts in earnest by opening up an iron quarry nearby.

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  • Is there a chance you’ll dig down too much and get stuck in the hole? How would you get out?

    • That’s why I’m trying to dig as wide a hole as I can, to make sure I don’t bash the engines. The retracted landing gears (legs) usually stop me getting that deep though, but it’s not a precise art.
      She’s actually got a lot more more lift than she needs, so she can still fly with a few busted engines, but even so…

      • Is part 7 going to be about you building another craft to winch this one out of the hole you’ve dug it into?

        • Haha maybe.
          Actually I’m already considering building a bigger mining rig (using the same large ship blocks as my base) because this is taking flipping ages.

  • Cory Nakawatase

    You know you can just add an airvent to that right? you don’t need a giant oxygen generator

    • I didn’t know that! Thanks! That oxygen generator is a huge power hog.
      Does the airvent need to be connected to anything in particular?

      • Cory Nakawatase

        You see that conveyor port in the front of the cockpit? You put it there and set it to depressurize so it sucks up the oxygen into your cockpit

        • Ah! Will it work on the back of the cockpit too?
          I’m new to this whole oxygen thing. I hadn’t played in a few months before I started this, so I haven’t played around with a lot of the new updates yet.

          • Cory Nakawatase

            No, unless you hook it up to the conveyor network, because the air vent is only 1x1x1 and wont be able to connect to the 3×3 conveyor at the back

            • ? The connections on the back of the cockpit are 1×1 too. MY cockpit is already connected to the conveyor network, so in theory I should be able to add the airvent to any of the conveyors

            • Cory Nakawatase

              Yes, I believe you got a handle on it

  • would it be possible to make a drilling vehicle that drills a hole directly in front of it, perhaps with a movable drill?

    • That would be possible, sure. Maybe useful for drilling into the base of the mesa. But most of the resources require me to drill down.
      Here’s an interesting contraption somebody made, but it looks very complicated and not very reliable.