Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Picard's Deep Space 12 & Other Starbases Explained

Deep Space 12 was mentioned (but not seen) in Star Trek: Picard episode 8, which would make DS12 the latest in a long line of Starbases. In the newest Star Trek series, Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), the former Captain of the Starship Enterprise-D and E, is back in outer space on a new ship with a very different motley crew. Picard actually went rogue in his quest to find Soji (Isa Briones), the synthetic daughter of the late Commander Data (Brent Spiner), but he eventually regained the support of Starfleet, who promised to send a squadron to meet him at DS12 - a rendezvous Picard, ironically, won't be making.

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In its various incarnations, Star Trek remains true to its original mission statement of "exploring strange new worlds... seek out new life and new civilizations... to boldly go where no one has gone before." This means braving the final frontier in starships like the U.S.S. Enterprise, but even Starfleet's mighty vessels routinely need repairs, supplies, and their crews require shore leave - this is where Starbases come in. Essentially, a Starbase is a permanent facility operated by Starfleet that provides starship support for Federation starships. A Starbase can be an orbital space station, a drydock, or a ground installation. Most Starbases can house multiple starships of every size and class in its hangar bays for repairs and refitting, while the interiors contain offices, living quarters, dining areas, and recreational facilities such as holodecks. Starbases are usually overseen by a Starfleet flag officer like an Admiral or a Commodore.

Deep Space 12 invokes the most famous Starbase in the Star Trek franchise: Deep Space Nine. Originally named Terok Nor, a Cardassian installation overseeing the Occupation of Bajor, Starfleet took it over and renamed it Deep Space Nine. Under Commander (later Captain) Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), DS9 became "the most important piece of real estate in the Alpha Quadrant" when the Wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant was discovered, along with the Prophets of Bajor - of which Sisko was the Emissary. Positioned to guard the Wormhole, DS9 became the crucial staging ground in the Dominion War against the shapeshifting Founders from the Gamma Quadrant, which devastated the Alpha Quadrant until the Federation, Klingon, and Romulan alliance prevailed. During a brief time when Starfleet had to evacuate DS9, Sisko helped oversee the war from Starbase 357 under the command of Admiral Ross (Barry Jenner). Star Trek: Picard's Deep Space 12 may only share a similar designation to DS9, however, and DS12 likely resembles a more traditional Starbase, albeit one probably much more advanced.

There have been a few other notable Starbases throughout the Star Trek TV series and movies. Star Trek: The Original Series' beloved episode "The Trouble With Tribbles" took place on Space Station K7, which became infested with millions of the fecund critters. Regula I was the Starbase that developed the Genesis Device Khan (Ricardo Montalban) stole in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The premiere episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Encounter at Farpoint", took place on Farpoint Station, which was a planet-based facility that was revealed to be a sentient being. The U.S.S. Voyager commanded by Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) launched from Earth Station McKinley, which is also where the Enterprise-D was refitted after fighting the Borg in TNG's classic "The Best of Both Worlds" two-parter.

Despite being set in the 23rd century, J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movies made Starbases even more advanced than those seen in TNG's 24th-century era. In Star Trek 2009, the U.S.S. Enterprise under the command of Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) launched from the massive Starbase I en route to intercept the Romulan Nero (Eric Bana) on Vulcan. Finally, Star Trek Beyond introduced the most impressive Starbase yet, Yorktown, which was a matrix of interlocking rings containing city-like superstructures within a protective sphere. Millions of people lived in Yorktown, which was a technological marvel far beyond anything seen in Star Trek before - unless Star Trek: Picard introduces a 25th-century Starbase that tops it.

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