The Earth Spacedock in Star Trek made its début in the film Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and subsequently in the fourth, fifth, and sixth Star Trek movies. The footage filmed in Star Trek III was reused for The Next Generation episode “11001001”, although the model stood in for “Starbase 74”. The same footage continued to be reused as Lya Station Alpha, Starbase 84, and Starbase 133.

Earth Spacedock or Starbase 1 is a Federation space station facility in Earth orbit, built sometime prior to the year 2285. The station was built with a vast interior, in which numerous starships could be berthed for service and repairs, and was part of the Sol system’s Starbase 1 complex of facilities.

Earth Spacedock concept art. Image: ILM

Designed as a permanent base for the many ships traveling the Sol System. It could easily provide refit and repair facilities for up to 8 cruiser-sized starships and up to 24 of Starfleet’s lesser-sized ships. In the late 24th century, several classes of Starfleet starships were commonly built at Spacedock 1, including the Saber-class and the Norway-class.

In addition to its military and traffic control functions, Spacedock also became an important commercial focal point for the Sol sector. Spacedock also provided the most extensive medical facilities in near-Terra orbit, rivaled only by those of the LaGrangian colonies in their completeness and scope of operation, according to Memory Beta Wiki.

Starfleet leases office space, warehouse facilities, cargo transporters, etc. Spacedock also housed a stateroom for conferences, and the lounge “Club 47”.

One filming model for the interior (for spacecraft shots inside the dock) was 9.1 m (30 ft) across and was built by Industrial Light and Magic special effect makers for motion pictures and TV.

Earth Spacedock was designed by David Carson and Nilo Rodis and first seen in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Image: ILM

Industrial Light and Magic’s David Carson and Nilo Rodis were responsible for designing the Earth Spacedock for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Carson told Star Trek: The Magazine (December 2002) years later that he was thinking of ways to make the space station interesting and thought:

“What if it is so big that the Enterprise actually goes into it?”

“I did a drawing of a space station that was big enough. It was a bit clunky, but Nilo took that and in his typical fashion turned it into a really wonderful design. So we presented this idea.”

The Enterprise is seen through the windows of Earth Spacedock in Star Trek III. Seeing the ship dock through a large group of windows made the space station look massive on the inside without making the Enterprise looking small, with the presence of people in the foreground providing a reference point for scale. Image: Paramount Pictures

Director William George wanted something original for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. He told Cinefex in 1992 that he looked at the model from all angles and ended up lying down on the ground to look up before he realized that was the perfect shot.

“You piloted well out of spacedock Lieutenant”

— Kirk in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

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Appearances:

Star Trek III (1984)
Star Trek IV (1986) (In this film the whole station gets turned off by the whale probe)
Star Trek V (1989)
Star Trek VI (1991)
Four appearances in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987–1993 show)
Star Trek: Voyager (one episode) (1995–2001 show)
Star Trek: Discovery (one episode) (2017–Current show)

 

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

9

Movie

8.0/10

Gadget & Tech

10.0/10

Overall

9.0/10

Pros

  • Iconic Design
  • VFX
  • The Sheer Size