Redresses of the Orbital Office Complex
Jörg Hillebrand and Bernd Schneider

The orbital office complex is the space station from where Kirk and Scotty start their tour of the newly refitted Enterprise in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture". After the movie the miniature was redressed and showed up several more times. These are the appearances in chronological order:

1. Orbital office complex ("Star Trek: The Motion Picture")

2. Regula One ("Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan")

3. Research station Tango Sierra (TNG: "The Child")

4. Starbase 173 (TNG: "The Measure of a Man")

5. Research station Tanuga IV (TNG: "A Matter of Perspective")

6. Deep Space 5 (TNG: "Parallels")

7. Unnamed starbase (DS9: "Blaze of Glory")

7. Starbase 375 (DS9: "A Time to Stand", "Behind the Lines", "Favor the Bold")

8. Starbase 257 (DS9: "Valiant")

9. Omega Molecule research station (VOY: "The Omega Directive")



The following analysis identifies three variants of the model and comments on the depictions published in the Star Trek Fact Files.

Orbital office complex The orbital office complex is composed of four long brownish tubes occupying the upper two thirds of the station, a number of arms with smaller and larger round pods around the center (some of which seem to be still under construction) and a cone-shaped lower section. Each of the disks in the center part is clearly just one deck tall, as evidenced by the window sizes as well as by the shots of the undocking travel pod. This gives us a diameter of just around 200m across its wide side.

The orbital office complex is reproduced largely correctly in the Star Trek Fact Files. The drawing is obviously closely based on actual model photos, the only notable inaccuracy is that a ball-like structure at the very bottom of the station does not exist, so we removed it.

Orbital office complex in "Star Trek I"

(screen capture by Jörg)

Orbital office complex in "Star Trek I"

(screen capture by Jörg)

Regula type When the miniature was slated to appear in "Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan" as the Regula One lab, it was turned upside down as the most obvious "alteration". In addition, the structure looking like an antenna dish at the bottom (former top) was removed, together with the clamps that were holding the big tubes and the antenna together. The now lower clamps are still present on the Fact Files depiction, however. While all four of the tubes of the orbital office complex are brown, two of them are beige on the Regula lab. The new top is adorned by an antenna spire. All of the smaller pods were removed from the outriggers on the wide side, leaving only the four largest ones and two smaller ones between the large pods on the narrow side of the station. One of the larger pods now holds what is obviously an observatory dome, possibly the one that was still under construction on the orbital office complex. Finally there is a less obvious modification which was not included in the Fact Files drawing. Rectangular structures looking like solar panels are affixed to all four sides of the conical top section of Regula One.

Regula One in "Star Trek II"

(screen capture by Jörg)

Regula One in "Star Trek II"

(screen capture by Jörg)

Commented Regula One drawing

(scan from the Star Trek Fact Files)

After probably six years in storage the miniature was unearthed for a couple of TNG episodes. Without any visible modifications it appears in TNG: "The Child", here acting as a science station that may easily be of an identical or similar type as Regula One. When the model is seen in TNG: "The Measure of a Man", still without any changes, it represents a large starbase, and the blatant scaling error becomes obvious comparing the station's windows to those of the Enterprise-D. Here the upper dome of the station alone measures more than 1000m across.

Tango Sierra station in TNG: "The Child"

(screen capture by Jörg)

Starbase 173 in TNG: "The Measure of a Man"

(screen capture by Jörg)

In TNG: "A Matter of Perspective" we see a small Regula-type station as well. At least, it would make sense for Dr. Apgar's research station to be that small. Another appearance of the model in its Regula version is in TNG: "Parallels", albeit only on a display as Deep Space 5. Finally we can see the miniature, for the last time with the tubes, in DS9: "Blaze of Glory". The unnamed starbase is the place where Eddington is imprisoned. But this is just stock footage of Regula One from "Star Trek II".

Tanuga IV station in TNG: "A Matter of Perspective"

(screen capture by Jörg)

Deep Space 5 in TNG: "Parallels"

(screen capture by Jörg)

Starbase type in DS9: "Blaze of Glory"

(screen capture by Jörg)

Starbase type The model was modified one last time to represent Starbase 375 in a number of DS9 episodes. The four tubes were removed, but once again nothing was done to support the definitely much larger size of the Starbase relative to the orbital office complex. There is one more change to miniature, however. On one side, the one with the observatory, the small pod was removed. The latter may have happened earlier, when the tubes were still present, but it is unmistakably visible only as late as on Starbase 375. As for the station's size, a 120m Defiant would give us a diameter of around 500m for the head section.

Note The "official" EAS rendition on the right has partitioned windows in order to make this variant of the station look bigger.

Starbase 375 in DS9: "Favor the Bold"

(screen capture by Jörg)

Starbase 375 in DS9: "Favor the Bold"

(screen capture by Jörg)

Starbase 257 (DS9: "Valiant") is identical to Starbase 375 - only stock footage was used. Finally, in VOY: "The Omega Directive" the station turns up on a computer screen as the secret Federation research outpost that was destroyed by the Omega Molecule, surprisingly yet again without the tubes - although the image is computer-generated and although this station may have been intended to be small.

Research station in VOY: "The Omega Directive"

(screen capture by Neutral Zone Starship Database)



The two versions called "Regula type" and "Starbase type" were not consistently used as small science stations and as huge starbases, respectively. But even if we accept that, it is hard to overlook the scaling error that arises from the way too large windows of the miniature. Still, there is no convenient way of ignoring that the large version exists as it could be seen several times in direct comparison with the Enterprise-D, the Defiant, a Jem'Hadar fighter and other ships.

Here is a table with all versions and appearances of the miniature at a glance:

Station type Episode Name & function Size Configuration

Orbital office complex
"Star Trek I" Orbital office complex Small Original look

Regula type
"Star Trek II" Regula One science station Small Tipped over, some pods removed, detail changes
TNG: "The Child" Research station Tango Sierra Small
TNG: "The Measure of a Man" Starbase 173 Big
TNG: "A Matter of Perspective" Research station Tanuga IV Small
TNG: "Parallels" Deep Space 5 Unknown
DS9: "Blaze of Glory" Unnamed starbase Uncertain

Starbase type
DS9: "A Time to Stand" etc. Starbase 375 Big No tubes, one small pod removed
DS9: "Valiant" Starbase 257 Big
VOY: "The Omega Directive" Omega Molecule research station Uncertain


See Also

Federation Space Stations - fixed spaceborne installations


The Design and Reuse of the Orbital Office Complex @ Forgotten Trek


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