A starbase is generally defined as a heavily-armed, heavily-defended facility used by spacefaring cultures at which both military and civilian spacecraft may be repaired and resupplied.
Starbases may be a deep space structure like K-7 or DS9, an orbital facility such as Starbase 1 (aka Earth Spacedock), a planetary surface facility, or a combination of both planetary surface and orbital structure(s) such as Starbase 11.
Starbases are often the hubs of activity within their assigned sectors. They act as:
- Trading posts and way stations for civilian transports
- Military garrison facilities, coordinating military starship operations and support
- Diplomatic, governmental and legal services for both military and civilian personnel
- Scientific and Medical research centers
In many ways starbases are analogous to the forts, fortresses, and castles used on Earth during various period of its history.
Command and control
Within the United Federation of Planets most starbases are Starfleet facilities and commanded by a flag officer (commodore or an admiral grade), but depending on the primary function of the facility such as commerce or cargo transfer as was the case with Deep Space Station K-7, they can be under civilian authority as well.
The use of starbases were proposed to Earth Starfleet as early as 2154. In this year, the NX-01 Enterprise was sent to scout for suitable planets on which starbases could be built. Among the potential candidates was the seventh planet of the Berengaria system. (ENT: "Bound")
The term "starbase" should not be confused with the term "space station", as not all starbases are space stations, nor are all space stations starbases. For example, an orbital dry dock gantry is a space station but not a starbase.
See also: Federation starbases