I read this book in the 80's.

In the near future, humans found an hangar full of small alien space ships in the Moon (~3 passengers). Ships have no controls other than START/STOP.

You can't select a destination. The ship takes you to a random (but valuable) location far away. Trip duration is unknown. An indicator light goes on when half of the trip is completed. The trip can be too long and you will die of starvation/lack of oxygen.

The ship returns automatically to his Moon base.

The story is about one of those expeditions aboard an alien ship.

  • This is a good start. Pick your brains to see if you can provide more information -- anything can be helpful. Do you remember anything about the cover of the book? Was it in English? Was it a new book when you first read it? Paperback or hardback? Do the aliens ever turn up, and is there any clue as to their form? Any memorable quotes from the book? And so on. – Invisible Trihedron Apr 17 at 19:17

This is likely Gateway by Frederik Pohl.

Although the ships were not on the moon, but on an asteroid.

It contains the elements of the alien ships flying automatically to unknown destinations, with a high death rate among the crews.

The "indicator light that goes on when half of the trip is completed" is, um, indicative.

When you start out it's pretty scary even for a veteran. You know you're accelerating. You don't know how long the acceleration will last. When you hit turnaround you can tell. First thing, you know formally because that golden coil in every Heechee ship flickers a little bit.

(emphasis mine)

Been asked about a lot here, this seems to be the master question: Looking for sci-fi novel I read about humanity finding alien station on orbit of Earth

Another where the answer wasn't accepted: Can anyone identify this book about tiny spaceships

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