From Elite Wiki
Station-bound traders are often headed in the same direction as the player and as such can contribute to some of the most time consuming and tedious mass-locks in the game. Slower traders take less time (and/or fuel) to overtake and therefore result in more tolerable mass-locks.
•The green box highlights that there is already a discrepancy for the Cobra mk.III between player speed (0.35 LM) and non-player speed (0.3 LM).
•The yellow, orange and red boxes highlight the difficulty that many slower ships than the mk.III can have in escaping mass-locks.
From Redspear's analysis of Masslock (2017)


Masslock is the disabling of the Torus Drive by the presence of mighty mass (not an asteroid or Rock Hermit, but rather a ship, or something "massier") in the vicinity. It is an inheritance from Classic Elite. Since this is the fastest method of travel within a star system, masslock can slow travel down greatly.

This is not to be confused with the negation of witchjump/hyperspace jump due to proximity to a massive mass such as an orbital station, planet, star or a moon. It is easy enough to do, because the massive masses inhibit both!


In classic elite you would fly from the exit of the witchspace tunnel to the planet. No beacons. The ships you would bump into would be coming in the opposite direction - except for stationary asteroids & rock hermits. You would be thrown out of Torus Drive and would have to decide whether to flee, fight or ignore the oncoming ship.

In Oolite, the picture is more complex because now you have many ships heading in the same direction, from the beacon to the station. And the masslock with people heading in the same direction takes longer. This is logical and makes sense. But there are also many more ships heading from the station to the witchpoint. This is increased if you have OXPs placing stations (Feudal hunting lodges, Monasteries of St. Herod, RSS stations, etc) near to the witchpoint, or have liners with escorts, or convoys traveling between the witchpoint and the orbital station.

The mass-lock that Oolite inherited:
  • Mass-lock comes from Classic Elite
  • It enables encounters with other ships to occur
  • Despite its flaws, it does its job

The mass-lock that Oolite implemented:

  • Mass-lock takes longer to escape (due in part to graphical upgrades as mentioned by cim)
  • Mass-lock is more frequent (due to greater system traffic)
  • Mass-lock with traders is more common (non player-centric design often suggests more prey than predators)
  • Mass-locking of ships heading towards the station (rather than away as was often the case in elite) is far more common

So mass lock has become:

  • More frequent
  • More time consuming
  • More problematic (e.g. trying to overtake an Asp headed in the same direction)
  • Less likely to result in combat
(Redspear (2016))

There are, of course, two perspectives. What makes sense from a real life perspective ... and what is fun in a game. the fact that the increased traffic from the witchpoint to the station makes sense, does not mean that you enjoy getting stuck in traffic jams when you play the game!

Vanilla game solutions

The simple solution in the Vanilla game to the traffic jam is to avoid it! When you come out of the tunnel, immediately turn away from the planet at a large angle and whizz along for 10-20 seconds until well clear of the traffic lane. Then make your way to the planet, keeping well away from the traffic.

Something to note

Your Torus drive is an anomaly. Yours is the only ship in the game to have one! This is one of the handful of advantages that you as a player have over the NPCs in the game. To manage anything similar, the NPC must use fuel injectors, burning up precious quirium fuel.

Star System Lane Indicator MFD
Telescope OXP shows colour-coordinated Masslock borders. Green for anchorages, red for offenders/thargoids, yellow for other powered craft, etc

OXP solutions

There are a number of OXPs which have been written to try and ameliorate the joys of masslock:

  • Elite Trader OXZ is in effect a variant of Oolite. Guild members in good standing enjoy no mass-locking!


  • Torus Drive for a list of other OXPs also affecting the Torus Drive.
  • Cheating for an analysis of non-player centrism & whether the NPC's lack of a Torus Drive counts as cheating!
  • SOTL Altmap an alternative game where the NPCs also have Torus Drives

BB Discussions

  • Redspear's two OXP solutions listed above link to his BB threads with long complex analyses of the situation (one of Redspear's many fortés!)
eg: Three major determinants in terms of mass-lock duration are
*Heading of mass-locking ships relative to the player
*Speed Difference between player and mass-locking ship (with a large difference in the player's favour being the most desirable)
*Scanner Range with a larger reach taking longer to clear (as mass-locking extends to the edge of the scanner)