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How many ships can be docked at Deep Space 9 at the same time?

Does the number of ships depend on their size?

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up vote 30 down vote accepted

6 large docking pylon ports; 3 medium docking ring ports; 9 small docking ring ports; 6 landing pads - http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Deep_Space_9

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It can presumably accommodate 6 large vessels at one time. Although I can't think of a time when we've seen all 6 being used. 6 + 3 + 9 + 6 = at least 24 ships (depending on size).

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Three Galaxy class starships on the upper pylons might be pretty tight, but look they they could all fit.

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The Defiant was often parked on one of the small or medium docking ports.

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Additionally there are launch pads and internal docking bays for smaller vessels, such as the runabouts.

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*Note: Pylon images taken from Memory-Alpha

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Why were the docking pylons necessary? Couldn't ships park a safe distance from DS9 and then transport (beam) crewmembers to the station? – RobertF Feb 29 at 16:18
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@RobertF Sure, but every time transporter technology is used there's a small risk of separating the tranportee's yin and yang or creating a clone that later turns evil or even entering a parallel universe. I'd rather just walk through a door if possible. – Doug Warren Feb 29 at 16:37
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@RobertF What if the transporters are down or disabled? What if the ship is damaged and can't maintain orbit around the station? What if the ship's shield's are damaged and they want to stay close to DS9? What if the entire crew of the ship needs (or wants) to board DS9? What if there are maintenance crews coming in and out that don't want to tie up the transporter? What if... the point is that there are plenty of reasons a ship would dock. – Kevin Workman Feb 29 at 16:40
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Note that even Federation-created Starbases usually have ships docking (internally). – JAB Feb 29 at 17:29
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It's not so much that the scale varied, as it was never consistently scaled in the first place. The interior and exterior designs assume at least a 2x difference IIRC, in addition to inconsistent sizes for the various ship types that dock there (size of Defiant relative to Galaxy class varies quite a lot in itself). – Leushenko Feb 29 at 19:13

Deep Space 9 had 6 docking pylons: 3 on the top and 3 on the bottom (referred to as "upper pylons" and "lower pylons").

The docking pylons were a series of six large structures attached to Deep Space 9's docking ring. These sweeping modules contained the large ore processing facilities, and also permitted the docking of large starships at the station. The pylons were generally referred to by their position relative to the station's horizontal axis and a designated number, for example "Upper pylon 1" or "Lower pylon 3". At the end of the pylons were docking bays, where large starships could dock with the station.

Additionally, Deep Space 9 had 6 more internal docking bays:

Not all docking bays were located within a structure. Deep Space 9 had a total of twelve docking bays of which six were external, called docking pylons. They were used to facilitate large ships which did not fit into the internal docking bays.

So the answer is 6 large ships and at least 6 small ships. More than one small ship can fit into an internal docking bay, so the number really depends on how small the ships are.

These are pretty much the first results for googling "Deep Space 9 docks", so I'm surprised your research didn't tell you all of this already.

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3  
@amaretto I'm not complaining, just pointing out a resource. Teach a man to fish, and all that. – Kevin Workman Feb 29 at 16:45
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@Kevin Workman Keep in mind that Google results depend on your past search history and the search history for your Internet "neighbors" as well. Something that can come up as a first search result for you, might not be the first (or even first few pages) search result for someone else. This can be especially frustrating if you're just starting to move into a field with no previous search history in it. – AndrejaKo Feb 29 at 18:56
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@AndrejaKo Again, I'm not complaining. But I'm pretty sure the Memory Alpha page on Deep Space 9, which both answers are basic copies of, would show up in most reasonable google searches for this question. Posting trivia questions for the sake of rep farming is fine, but if we're actually trying to help people learn, then helping them realize that google can answer many questions like this is the best way to help them. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose. – Kevin Workman Feb 29 at 19:02
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@user001 Again. My answer includes links to the answer, as well as the answer itself. I just also pointed out that google is good at this kind of question. Some people are here to just answer trivia, but I like to think this site is also for actually educating people. Politely pointing out that google is an option is the best way to help people who really want to know trivial answers. – Kevin Workman Mar 1 at 14:18
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@user001 I understand that, but that's not at all what I did, so I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with the information. If you're frustrated with other answers, maybe comment on them? – Kevin Workman Mar 1 at 14:27

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