Crashed Ships are one of various planetary Points of Interest.
They spawn randomly on planets, and can be of several sizes and classes. The player can choose to claim and repair it, or exchange it for a better one at a Space Station or an Outpost. The crashed ship can be exchanged for one of the ships already owned, or, if fewer than six ships are already owned, it can be added to your starship collection. The ship not in use will be stored on the freighter. For players that don't own a freighter can still own more than one ship, it will just stay on the ground where they were found. Warping the freighter one time after accepting the crashed ship will move the other ship to the hangar.
Interacting with the Distress Beacon will give the player a random reward dependent on the player's choice of two possible actions, including units, Nanite Clusters, standing with a race, and maybe an upgrade module. There is always a Damaged Machinery Pod nearby as well, providing some Nanite Clusters, Starship Launch Fuel, or a module.
The site can be empty, with a red orb in the Distress Beacon, broadcasting a message that the Crashed Ship was removed.
The player may encounter the pilot of the crashed ship nearby. Talking to the pilot will present an option to repair the ship, enabling the pilot to get back in and take off. It is not possible to claim the ship in this case.