We know ships are built in shipyards and take few months to be finished. But how are those giant starbases built? Those screened on screen seem to be a hundred times larger than the Enterprise, so my questions are:

  1. Where are they built? In special yards and then assembled at the desired space location, or at temporary building yard constructed at the place where a starbase is to be?
  2. How long does it take to build those giant bases?
  3. Do they have warp/impulse capabilities?

Starbase One

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    It is reasonable to assume they have similar travelling capabilities as deep space stations (such as DS9), which has thrusters (if memory serves).
    – bitmask
    Jan 26, 2013 at 18:32
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    @Thaddeus Best guess is the second paragraph, which basically says "this isn't an answer, but you could possibly get one by doing this". I had considered upvoting it earlier since I think we'll have to rely on non-canon sources for this question (and the first half was good)
    – Izkata
    Jan 26, 2013 at 18:45
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    I am certain we will have to rely on either completely non-canon or published (barely-canon) sources. I could not think of an answer off the top of my head either. Off to my Fortress of Geekitude to see if an answer can be found. Thanks for the responses. Jan 26, 2013 at 18:48
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    Secondly, I don't see how relevant a game mechanic is to this question, especially when the times referenced are not in-game time, but are real-world time. It would be like using the walking speed of your character in Elite Force to infer that the ship Voyager should be double its canon size or somesuch.
    – user1027
    Jan 27, 2013 at 1:41
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    @Keen Just because you don't see it as relevant doesn't mean it isn't. When there is very little or no canon information we have to rely on soft canon sources. Even so, such a hasty deletion without a comment was frankly unfair and appeared biased.
    – user11295
    Jan 27, 2013 at 20:00

5 Answers 5


There's very little information on Starbase construction, though memory-beta and memory-alpha were very useful.

  1. They're probably built "on-location", since the purpose of yards is to speed up production by having essential services in-place to be re-used on subsequent construction projects. As starbases don't have warp drive, building such a huge construct and then having to move it across interstellar space would be impractical. It is possible that they're constructed well-away from any planet and then "nudged" (very carefully) into their final orbit.

  2. Couldn't find any info on construction times, but being much larger than a starship (approx 3 miles in height according to memory-alpha), their construction times would also be much longer.

  3. Most Starbases likely don't have impulse, though Earth Spacedock does as they're necessary to maintain it's orbit as it's very close to Earth, (so maximum speed is probably very low), though no warp ability. As Zibbibz points out, the Cardassian-constructed DS9 illustrates this nicely.

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    " It is possible that they're constructed well-away from any planet and then "nudged" (very carefully) into their final orbit." Oh man, I'd love to see that episode. "Yep. Yep. Keep going. To me. To me. To me. Slow down a little. Slow down. Slow. Slow. No. Slow. SLOW. SLOW. WAIT. SLOW! SLOW! Right, evacuate the northern hemisphere." Jan 30, 2013 at 11:19
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    @PaulD.Waite Advanced helmsman license 101 - Parallel Parking a Starbase in Orbit. "Put it in reverse and fire thrusters.....then cut the wheel."
    – user14952
    Jun 29, 2013 at 1:06
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    Construction time is not necessarily a factor of size. A star-ship needs to move its entire mass via a warp field; a starbase just needs to stick together.
    – DougM
    Feb 14, 2014 at 16:51
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    It may have been a Cardassian construction, but DS9 definitely DID have a propulsion system, used in the very first episode even.
    – Zibbobz
    Apr 23, 2014 at 14:53
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    There's little to no reason IRL why you would build a space station in deep space then "nudge" it into orbit versus just building it in orbit from the get-go. I am unaware of any in-universe caveats so it seems like a non-issue (building in place). Sounds like you need to play some Kerbal Space Program to learn orbital mechanics
    – Nick T
    Jun 5, 2014 at 3:27

I can only provide a partial answer to point 2 based on some numbers from a soft canon source the Star Trek Online MMO where players have the option to build their own starbases.

In that universe it is expected that a fleet of captains will be able to complete their starbase in an absolute minimum of six to seven months.

Edit: I found a couple of additional points related to the building of Deep Space 9:

The station was of Cardassian design, built by Bajoran slave labor between 2346 and 2351.

So DS9 took five years to build. However it's replacement Deep Space 9 II was built much quicker:

The skeleton of the station was laid out by the Starfleet Corps of Engineers in 2383 under the supervision of Miles O'Brien,

Deep Space 9 became partially habitable and operational in September 2384.

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    It needs to be noted that the 6-7 months is how long it takes 21st century gamers to accomplish building a starbase in a game. It says nothing about the amount of time it takes 23rd-25th century Starfleet personnel to accomplish this task in universe.
    – user1027
    Jan 27, 2013 at 20:43
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    @Keen and friends - Despite that fact that it is a game, the game attempts to represent the Star Trek universe in as much detail as possible, only making shortcuts for the sake of drama or brevity, much like the shows and movies. To dismiss it out of hand as you have done only shows your bias
    – user11295
    Jan 28, 2013 at 12:14
  • The downvotes are completely non-obvious to me. Can someone of the police explain?
    – flq
    Jan 28, 2013 at 12:17
  • @flq Two of the downvotes were on the original post, probably for the paragraph that has now been entirely removed
    – Izkata
    Jan 28, 2013 at 12:28
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    @APaleShadow You're greatly over-stating how accurate to the universe the game is. Everyone's a Captain of their own ship, from Ensigns to Admirals. You can buy and sell armaments, which no Starfleet officer would have to do in universe. And of course, travel times between distant systems don't take weeks of real time. The story of the game is true to the spirit of Trek, but there's a lot of video game mechanics that are non-canon.
    – user1027
    Jan 28, 2013 at 15:57

From an Engineering veiwpoint, and based upon the sheer size. I would hypothesize that for the Big stations, such as Earth Space Dock, it would take 3-5 years, with the segments being built in an asteroid field, and then moved by tugs to where they were gamma welded to each other.

Other stations like Regula 1, the Office Complex in TMP, were smaller and could be towed into location with dedicated tug ships, and might take months to be built.

As for DS9, I don't think each station had maneuvering thrusters, and those were supposed to be station keeping thrusters (remember Empok Nor wasn't around a planet.) The only reason DS9 moved was to protect the Wormhole from the Cardassians.

What would impress me the most would be the fact that any government could compromise long enough to build 182 of these starbases. Today, we can't even compromise enough to keep the ISS up and running.


Ok... we have little to no information on how long it takes to build a starship. There's a difference between designing a starship on a drawing board (which could easily take months or years) to actual construction/completion (which could easily take a few weeks).

Novels are not canon... and lets not forget that use of automation would have to be paramount in space (which is thousands of times faster/better than humans/humanoids).

Let us also recall that in ST Voyager, it took the crew about a week to build the Delta Flyer... and again we don't know what it took to built it (the way it was portrayed, it seemed as if the crew mainly did it - which to me is ridiculous). Voyager has an assortment of technologies at its disposal such as tractor beams and replicators, and their computer is highly advanced (meaning, it can do the construction all by itself).

If anything similar to 3d printers exists in Trek in the 23rd century (which the probably do and are far more advanced/faster than what we have and would likely predate the replicators), then it stands to reason the Federation could easily deploy these automated construction 3d printers to build a starship in a very short span of time (within a month possibly).

A space station (depending on size) would take longer... but this depends on how many theoretical automated 3d printers are used in construction vs a starship.

In the 24th century, I don't see why replicating whole starships... or most of them in pieces, would be impossible. Drydocks and construction facilities have massive energy reserves at their disposal, and replicators in that time could easily be drawing Zettajoules of power directly from the star itself in addition to using Matter/Antimatter.

For the 23rd century, a similar process would likely take place using 3d printers that can produce whole structures... along with internal circuitry (btw, 3d printers CAN 'replicate' houses with electrical wiring btw) in a very short span of time. And since the Federation was usually portrayed as an organisation that creates modular type technology... it stands to reason that as others have said, these structures would simply be attached to each other upon completion.

So, how fast something would be built depends on how much automation you really throw at the task.

The 24th century can easily replicate everything into existence by converting energy into matter. The 23rd would need access to raw materials... and those are usually pretty much common throughout virtually every solar system. And since technical efficiency allows us to do more with less, the Federation would likely be able to take a very miniscule amount of materials and use them in a creation of a starbase (which could conceivably take about several weeks to months until completion or less - automation is exceedingly efficient and fast... plus, we cannot simply view things from a slower point of view as it's happening in real life... the Federation is massively far more advanced in comparison to us, and we are capable of some amazing feats... the Federation would in comparison be thousands of orders of magnitude faster/better than us (and that's at a bare minimum).


Since no one has a definitive answer, I will share mine as a plausible response. A new Parking garage was built next to my office, and I watched the crews bring in sections of it every day and they were all put together to make the finished product. I'm saying they might have made the station somewhere else, such as Utopia Planitia Shipyards for example, then had it moved in sections to their final destination. The sections could easily be towed by a large Starship or the equivalent of a barge. The interior would be a simple matter once the outer hull was constructed and sealed.

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