Quite informally, the two words are synonyms. In formal writing, however, (i.e., in documents from NASA), the term "spacecraft" is always used. "Spaceship", on the other hand, is a quite informal term -- for example, a child might say, "Look at that spaceship!" when watching a science fiction movie. But when talking about real space vessels, "spacecraft" is the term that is always used.
Literally, there is no difference between the two, but when I hear "spaceship" I think of the Enterprise or the Galactica or whatever, and "spacecraft" makes me think of Shuttles and Soyuzes (I doubt that is spelled correctly...I know nothing of Russian, or English spellings of Russian words.)
Well, to be honest 'spacecraft' first makes me think of Vinka's Spacecraft/2/3. Maybe it should go to the 'addicted' thread? :lol:
Well a spaceship is simply any spacecraft that carries three or more masts each supporting square solar sails. If the spacecraft only caries two such masts, it's a spacebrig, etc.
I've always informally thought of the term spaceship, by analogy to current ocean going ships, as being reserved for a spacecraft that's reusable and capable of extended independent operation, such as an Earth-Moon orbit to orbit shuttle, etc, as opposed to contemporary spacecraft which are only capable of making brief forays into space with extensive ground support.
I think a spaceship is something that doesn't really exist for us yet. I agree with silent_protagonist. To me, a "spaceship" seems informal now, but in the future it will be a larger vessel that has a large crew and longer duration "voyages" as it would be long enough to not just be considered a short "flight" and a "craft" for me can be almost any of them, but more generically, and certainly does NOT need a crew. for example i consider all satellites and probes and things all be spacecraft and also i might say, in the future, "that particular ship is a fine vessel, and it can deploy lots of spacecraft"