Terok Nor, the Cardassian space station in orbit of Bajor, was abandoned when the Cardassian occupation ended. This left the Bajorans in control of the station and they assumed ownership of it. Shortly thereafter the Bajorans petitioned for entry into the Federation and requested assistance in repairing and running the station, but it was still Bajoran property. source: Deep Space 9 and the Federation

I am curious, however, on why the station was named Deep Space Nine, instead of being given a Bajoran name. Was this simply to try and please the Federation, in an attempt to move along their entry application, or was it a requirement of the Federation, that they get to name the station if they are going to manage it? Or was there some other reason given?

  • 9
    Pure speculation: The Bajorans had their own name for it but we never get to hear it due to the universal translator changing it to "Deep Space Nine". The fact that "Terok Nor" is not translated might be because the UT is smart enough to maintain the distinction of DS9 under Cardassian rule and Federation/Bajoran rule. Again, pure speculation but the most reasonable explanation I can think of.
    – bitmask
    Jan 29, 2013 at 17:39
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    @Bitmask: The UT shouldn't be messing around with proper nouns, and I don't think we've seen any indication that it does so. Jan 29, 2013 at 18:09
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit: Maybe the Bajorans just call it "the station" or "the space station". Which is not a proper noun, right?
    – bitmask
    Jan 29, 2013 at 18:31
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    The universal translator has to munge proper names. Consider the Breen's grinding screech of a language. They probably can't pronounce or remember our names for things any more than we can theirs. We've certainly never heard them try. In that case it would make sense for the translator to replace unpronounceable or unintelligible names with ones the translation target can handle. Because of the always on translation system it's hard to know what language anyone is speaking or the names of anything, really.
    – Kyle Jones
    Jan 29, 2013 at 18:38
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit "Klingon" is not the Klingon word for Klingon; "tlhIngan" is. So yes, proper nouns do get "translated" to whatever the target language uses as the proper noun for that object, if one exists.
    – Izkata
    Jan 30, 2013 at 0:19

8 Answers 8


This is a really good question that I'd never even once considered.

Ultimately, though, I doubt there's any decent in-universe explanation, unless the Federation simply required from the Bajoran Provisional Government that the name conform to Federation station naming conventions as a condition of providing such massive assistance.

Speaking more practically (and picking a random Bajoran term), try marketing a new television show called "Star Trek: Jia'kaja".



More depth, less snarky answer:

After the withdrawal of the Cardassians, the Federation was invited to operate Terok Nor on behalf of the Bajoran government. The “Deep Space” moniker for space stations seems to indicate either space stations smaller than the Starbase category, on the outskirts of Federation territory, or operated in coordination with another government or civilian authority.

So within Federation records the posting would have been classified as a Deep Space posting and the number 9 was not in use. The Bajorans, probably wanting to distance themselves from what Terok Nor represented and not having a better name at the time, would have approved the name change to avoid confusion. Also as a superstitious culture (for good reason) I would not be surprised if they have something along the lines of numerology and 9 is a fortuitous number.

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    I'm inclined to go with "outskirts of Federation territory", as the name makes more sense, and Deep Space Station K-7 was near the Klingon border, although it too was much smaller than a starbase. Memory Alpha agrees, but without any reference.
    – Izkata
    Feb 1, 2013 at 3:48
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    There have been references to other "deep space n"'s throughout the series, so this seems likely. I cannot recall the episode but I know that there was Deep Space 1 at some point. Mar 17, 2013 at 4:28
  • Yes, Deep Space # have been mentioned in TOS and TNG. Aug 23, 2014 at 19:30
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    This is why, I'd say, above all others. Same with the real world. After changes of sovereignty, post-occupation situations, prisons, government buildings, etc, with a bad rep are almost ALWAYS renamed. To help combat the bad memories associated with it. So if say in Berlin Hitler had a palace, but wasn't destroyed by bombing, after the occupation of Berlin begins even if that palace were to be used its name would have been changed because of the Nazi sting attached to it. That's how it usually goes.
    – user20178
    Oct 8, 2018 at 4:44

As per the Memory Alpha article you linked to:

A complex arrangement was established, in which a Starfleet officer would have overall authority in running the station, while the station remained sovereign Bajoran territory.

As Starfleet has overall authority over running the station, it's not surprising that Starfleet would refer to it with their own name. This probably makes sense to the Bajorans too, as during the show's timeline, Bajor seems to be struggling to feed its own people, let alone contribute much beyond personnel to running a space station. As it's Federation-run, it makes sense to refer to it by a Federation name.

Bear in mind though that names are in the mouths of the beholder (as it were), especially in DS9. For example, it's discussed several times in the show that what Starfleet calls "the wormhole", Bajorans call "the Celestial Temple".

As the audience, we mainly see DS9 from the perspective of Starfleet; we therefore see everyone calling it Deep Space Nine. It may well be that many Bajorans still call the station "Terok Nor", or something else (though I don’t think there are any examples of this during the show).

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    The Bajorans call the wormhole "The Celestial Temple". Mar 11, 2018 at 12:27
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit yeah that sounds more familiar. Not sure where I got “Temple of the Prophets” from. (Dukat says it in Tears of the Prophets, but screw Dukat.) Mar 12, 2018 at 13:09
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    +1 for "mouths of the beholder" and "screw Dukat".
    – T.J.L.
    Mar 12, 2018 at 20:25
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    @T.J.L. "mouths of the beholder": my fantastic, inexplicably rejected DS9 spec script. Mar 12, 2018 at 22:08
  • IIRC the Cardassians didn't want to let go of the "Terok Nor" name for what was originally their station, further supporting the point about "Starfleet perspective".
    – Anthony X
    Feb 17, 2019 at 21:39

This answer is pure headcanon.

Bajoran Provisional Government "Please come and take control of this Cardassian monstrosity in orbit. We don't want anything to do with it. Oh, and change its name; Cardassian names give our people...bad feelings."

Starfleet "What would you like us to change it to?"

BPG "I don't care! Just not anything Cardassian!"

Starfleet "Deep Space Nine it is."


Convenience (for the Federation)

From the wikia:

A complex arrangement was established, in which a Starfleet officer would have overall authority in running the station, while the station remained sovereign Bajoran territory. A representative of the Bajoran Militia would serve as the station's first officer and as liaison to the Bajoran government. The station was renamed "Deep Space 9", and Benjamin Sisko was appointed as commander, at Admiral Leyton's recommendation

While unusual for a military base, it might be Bajoran sovereignty - it is an official Federation military base. This means it occupies a spot in the Federation's command structure and as such is probably the easiest to name it according to Federation standards (although considering these names range from Starbase 1 to Jupiter, those names do seem to have some flexibility - but maybe not for a base with such clear military purpose). Usually a military base in foreign soil/base would be granted native sovereignty within its own borders/walls/gates - but the Bajorans are probably a bit particular about giving that up after the Cardassian.

Put it another way: Deep Space Nine is for all intent and purpose and official Federation base, with an unusual twist made solely to appease the Bajorans during a sensitive time. If the Bajorans had held command and Sisko was made a liason/first officer - the naming would certainly be done the other way around.


Who's to say the station itself was ever renamed? Starfleet put various personnel on the station (under Sisko's command) for administrative and technical operation. "Deep Space Nine" could simply have referred to the element of Starfleet personnel that operated Terok Nor as well as the Federation jurisdiction associated with the station, not the station itself.

  • KIRA: I officially welcome you to Deep Space Nine. DUKAT: You mean Terok Nor, don't you?. It's clear that the station received a new official designation ; chakoteya.net/DS9/524.htm
    – Valorum
    Feb 18, 2019 at 7:16

Perhaps it was done as an homage to TOS episode "Balance of Terror" where 8 outposts were mentioned (I know there were more outposts along Neutral Zone, but in this episode only 8 were mentioned). Since those were on the federation border, same as DS9, the creators perhaps saw it as the descendant of Neutral Zone outposts... There is also a psychological aspect... When you need to name something in numbers the first one that comes to mind is number 7, someone might thought of it, but said: "Nah... Everyone is using 7." And then came up with the next odd number, which is 9.

  • I think the asker is looking for an in-universe answer. Even assuming an out-of-universe answer is acceptable, you should cite a source saying that the creators did it for this reason.
    – Null
    Sep 3, 2015 at 20:31

Think the real reason - stated here already - marketing.

The two largest television markets aired the series on channel 9.

WOR-TV-9 New York and WGN-TV-9 Chicago

Thus a marketing gain an unmentioned link to these two stations - which the show was syndicated (non-network) thus needed to be sold to the top markets to gain enough market share to make the expenses of an expensive sci-fi series.

  • Welcome to Science Fiction & Fantasy! I think the asker is looking for an in-universe rather than real-life answer, though.
    – Null
    Apr 2, 2019 at 14:35

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