I understand the Deep Space Nine station was able to move, although with many difficulties and limitations.

So my question is, why haven't the Cardassians just taken the station to Cardassian space while they were withdrawing from Bajor?

It seems to me that Cardassian space wasn't that far from there, it might have been worth it to try and take the station with them. It wouldn't even matter if they weren't successful since the station would end up in Bajoran hands anyway.

  • If it had meant that much to them, why didn't they just evacuate everyone (or at least all the Cardassians on-board) and then activate the self-destruct mechanism? – SpacePhoenix Jun 19 '19 at 7:27
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    @SpacePhoenix - An excellent (and answerable) question for you to ask – Valorum Jun 19 '19 at 12:50
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    I have a feeling you may have an unclear picture of what "far" is in space. There's far, and then there's FARRRR.... – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 19 '19 at 16:06

Because it's huge and relatively fragile. Moving it under its own steam a few million klicks within a solar system was next-to-impossible and only done in extremis. Towing it at warp to get it to another solar system would result in it disamantling itself violently.

KIRA: Mister O'Brien, what would it take to move this station to the mouth of the wormhole?

O'BRIEN: This isn't a starship, Major. We've got six working thrusters to power us and that's it. A hundred sixty million kilometre trip would take two months.

DS9: Emissary


O'BRIEN: We've got to close that gap in the field or we'll tear ourselves into a million pieces.

DS9: Emissary

Additionally, the station is essentially worthless and far more trouble than it's worth to be moved, just another piece of junk left in orbit of a backwater planet whose resources are pretty much depleted.

You might want to note that they also abandoned another similar mining station (Empok Nor) a few light years away when the asteroids that it was mining were tapped out, so these are definitely disposable assets.

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    They have hundreds of the stations elsewhere so why try to salvage one that’s relatively minor in comparison to the rest of Cardassia’s conquered assets – MissouriSpartan Jun 18 '19 at 23:35
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    @DevSolar - I recall NASA referring to this sort of thing as an 'unintentional dismantlement' – Valorum Jun 19 '19 at 12:48
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    It's probably worth adding that Sisko ran a computer program - prior to evacuating DS9 - that fried the entire computer systems. The Cardassians just barely got the array working when the Federation arrived. It's quite conceivable large portions of the computer systems were still down, including thruster control. This would also explain why the Cardassians also didn't just activate a self-destruct sequence either. – SSight3 Jun 19 '19 at 13:07
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    It was always my understanding that the difficulty they experienced in moving the station in the first episode was largely due to the damage the station had suffered when the Cardassians pulled out. As O'Brien mentions,they only have 6 working thrusters, and when we seem them from the outside they only cover a small section of the docking ring. – Xantec Jun 19 '19 at 14:36
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    @Xantec - it's also very large. One of the largest structures within Federation controlled space. Basically it's a whale and moving it under warp tow, presumably using dozens of ships moving at very low warp would just be a waste of effort, if it could even be done due to the engineering problems and the chances of it falling apart at the seams – Valorum Jun 19 '19 at 18:04

As an addition to the excellent answer by Valorum, I would also point out that such space stations are rarely, if ever, equipped with warp drives.

Moving it from it's position in orbit of Bajor to the entrance of the wormhole took a few hours, thanks to the little bit of creative engineering by the crew. Moving it back to Cardassian space at such slow impulse speed would have taken years. Cardassian Space is close to Bajoran Space when you're travelling at warp, at sublight speed, everything is suddenly very far away.

Refitting Terok Nor with warp drives would have been way more hassle than it was worth, if it was at all possible, a warp ship frame is under different sort of stresses than an orbital mining station, not to mention quite long. Not something you do when you are basically evacuating the place before surrendering it to someone else.

  • They could have taken the route the Bajoran solar ships took... – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 19 '19 at 16:08
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    @Harper Weren't they believed to be mythical? – Admiral Jota Jun 19 '19 at 16:53
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    @AdmiralJota it was known by then. When Sisko built one and sailed it to Cardassia, Gol Ducat and several Cardassian warships greeted him and gave him a Ravager funera— wait wrong franchise— a harmless fireworks display in at least feigned celebration. I am quite sure in season 6 or 7, they would have given them a rather different sort of fireworks display. So they had found the route by then. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 19 '19 at 16:57
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    Even Sisko's little ship was nearly torn apart. Just imagine if you tried to take the QE2 over the Niagara Falls. – Valorum Jun 19 '19 at 17:22
  • @Harper that was a solar ship as the name implies, it needs a large surface area (sails) relative to the body size, DS9 does not have the required surface area to be pushed by the tachyon particles (it doesn't have massive sails). It only got to warp by being pushed by tachyon's instead of light, so it wouldn't work for any other type of ship (or station) – Matt Oct 13 '19 at 15:50

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