A ship-upgrade system is a mechanism present at two Landing Sites in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, the Hangar Bay on Bryyo, and the SkyTown Federation Landing Site on Elysia. This machinery consists of three retractable racks that rise into and from the floor and encircle a ship. Above is a ceiling-mounted, claw-like laser emitter, which is reflected off of folding panels at the top of each rack onto the ship. The ship-upgrade systems in the mentioned Landing Sites are used to upgrade Samus Aran's Gunship to be able to fire missiles and grapple enormous objects. To upgrade her ship, Samus must first retract the systems and command her ship to land.
When Samus first enters the Hangar Bay, its ship-upgrade system is active. Before she can use an Interface Module to summon the upgrading racks, an AI locks the room due to the detection of hostile bioforms. After she defeats the ambushing Reptilicus Hunters and Warp Hounds, the lockdown is lifted, but the racks and laser remain retracted. The Interface Module raises out of the floor so that Samus can activate the upgrade system. However, she is required to open the bay doors so her ship can land inside the hangar, and leave the racks retracted until it has landed. To reach the terminal she needs to use (on a higher floor), Samus must ascend an Elevator to a platform. She can then jump onto one of the racks, and a Grab Ledge mounted on the top laser emitter to get there. Once Samus's ship has landed inside the Hangar Bay, she can press the Missile button on the module to activate the upgrade system and gain the Ship Missile Launcher.
The process of upgrading the Gunship to use a Grapple Beam is much more straightforward. Upon entering the SkyTown Federation Landing Site, Samus notices a Chozebo over the landing platform. Aurora Unit 217 calls Samus and lifts the locks on the Chozebo, summoning a Bomb Slot piston that Samus can use to remove the landing cover. She can then command her Gunship to land at this site and use another Interface Module in the same manner as before to upgrade the ship.
- Missile racks (Hangar Bay)
- "Missile racks are part of a gunship weaponry upgrade system. Controlled by nearby terminal."
- Interface Module (Hangar Bay)
- "Terminal controls Missile racks. Ship-upgrade system in standby. No ship present to upgrade."
- Interface Module (Hangar Bay, Gunship present)
- "Ship-upgrade system ready. Operate terminal to begin the ship weaponry upgrade."
- Interface Module (SkyTown Federation Landing Site)
- "Terminal controls machinery. Ship-upgrade system in standby. No ship present to upgrade."