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A previous question asks "How many Deep Space stations are there?". What exactly is a Deep Space station?

That is, what is it that distinguishes a station with the (Federation) designation, qualifier, or label of Deep Space from any other space station maintained by or staffed by Federation or allied personnel?

Is it based on distance from Earth (e.g. any station more than X light years from Earth is per se a Deep Space station, by definition)?

Are Deep Space stations covered under a different regulatory regime (e.g. martial law versus civilian law), funding structure, or polity than regular Starbases or other non-Deep Space stations and the name reflects this different structure?

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"Stations that were positioned on the edge of the Federation border (like Deep Space K-7) or, in the case of Deep Space 9, in neutral territory close to the Federation border, were labeled as Deep Space stations."

From Memory Alpha (emphasis added)

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    @Ellesedil considering Deep Space 9 was originally called Terok Nor, was built by the Cardassians, and wasn't really working all that well until O'Brien got a hold of it, I'd guess that technical specifications aren't a consideration in Deep Space naming conventions. – Shane Sep 17 '17 at 7:45
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    @Shane It was working fine until the Cardassians left - they sabotaged it much like the Federation would do during the war. – T.J.L. Sep 17 '17 at 13:24
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    @T.J.L. The Federation would certainly scupper the technology, as they did when they abandoned it before The Dominion seized control, but they wouldn't have trashed the shops and set up booby-traps like The Cardassians did. – Crow T Robot Sep 17 '17 at 14:11
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    @Ellesedil I'd hazard a guess that it is a combination of all those things + context. Such designations, at least in my experience in the military, are contextually based and are often rather fluid. Over time, things can look a bit like a hodge-podge or a collection of loosely similar things...if that makes sense :-) – wcullen Sep 17 '17 at 19:56
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    @wcullen and that sort of thing applies even outside the military. For example, in many English-speaking jurisdictions, the difference between a "town" and a "city" is legally meaningless, while in other jurisdictions, such as Virginia, it is politically and legally very important. Some Virginia "towns" are actually much bigger than some Virginia "cities", but the "cities" have additional political independence that "towns" do not have. You cannot automagically upgrade a Virginia "town" to a Virginia "city" by building skyscrapers, adding a subway system, or attracting settlers. – Robert Columbia Sep 18 '17 at 12:35

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