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Wingsley January 6 2013 02:36 AM

Space Station K-7
I would imagine that Space Station K-7, seen in the TOS ep "The Trouble with Tribbles", needs no introduction here. :rommie:

I was recently reviewing Geoffrey Mandel's excellent K-7 blueprints from 1976, and I noticed that the "maximum radius" of the K-class station were just a few dozen meters (yards) less than the presumed length of a Constitution-class starship. This intrigued me. There never was any canon confirmation anywhere on the actual size of the station, was there? People can compare the size of the Enterprise and the Klingon ship to the K-7 as they circle around it, and I suppose that's a vaguely logical means of making a conclusion. (If the Klingon vessel was 100 kilometers off the station, it certainly wouldn't be that close; it doesn't matter if you're going by the remastered images or the original ones.)

The Mandel prints are neat, but by no means complete. This leads to questions and speculation in my mind. We hear the characters talking about shore leave, shopping, and starships using the station. We never see any spacecraft physically docking with the K-7, but we can assume it is at least possible for spacecraft of some size to do so. (I suppose it is possible that the quadrotritcale grain, bound for the troubled Sherman's Planet, could have been transmat-beamed over to the K-7's storage compartments, but we must also assume that physical docking and transfer must at least be possible as well.) I point all these things out because the way the characters keep referring to the K-7 suggests it is a "big" operation unto itself. Kinda like a commerce hub at a key point in the interstellar void. (Every spacecraft, including the station, is apparently well illuminated in both "The Trouble with Tribbles" and also in "The Ultimate Computer", at least in the original version; so we can assume K-7 and its unnamed cousin are in deep space.) The notion that the station has become a storage facility for hybrid grain interestingly suggests that the station has the capacity to do so.

So K-7 (and that other one) are "big", bustling facilities in deep space, or so we may safely assume. But just how "big" is "big", anyway? There is nothing canon (outside of remastered imagery) to suggest that Cyrano Jones' one-man scoutship actually "landed" on the station, but can we make the assumption that it is at least possible? If the station can serve as a storage depot for needed grain on nearby Sherman's Planet, does that mean it can logistically serve as a storage or processing platform for other materiel? Or maybe the transfer or servicing of equipment? The notion of "shore leave" opens up the possibility that K-7 has the capacity for spacecraft, including starships-of-the-line, to allow their crews/passengers to disembark and either relax on the station or be left there as a port in a longer itinerary.

This, to me, suggests that the station has the capacity to handle "passengers"/"visitors" of many hundreds, if not thousands, at a time. Remember, this isn't like an island on Earth, where you can take a walk on the beach. A space station, by definition, is an enclosed vessel with volumetric limits. So in order for K-7 to accommodate shore leave for starship crews, and storing large quantities of grain, and house its own crew, and do it all with no emergency conditions (nothing in the way K-7 personnel behaved indicated that the arrival of two starships at once, on top of handling the grain, would be a problem; in fact, issues with the Klingons and Sherman's Planet politics aside, they acted like it was business as usual) indicates (to me, at least) that there's plenty of room. The notion of Starfleet using a similar station for disembarking an entire crew for Fleet exercises suggests that it not only has the capacity but also that it has plenty of power, as well. (Obviously M-5 would have to be handled in a secure facility, and Daystrom and other Fleet V.I.P.'s would want to relax in generous accommodations as well... Plus, if we assume that these stations are isolated in an interstellar void, each of them must be secure with an ample power source for continued operations.)

So, just how "big" is "big", anyway?

Robert D. Robot January 6 2013 03:01 AM

Re: Space Station K-7
All your good points make it seem that K-7 should be larger on the inside than it looks on the outside.

Maybe the station was built using some Time Lord technology.....

Wingsley January 6 2013 03:09 AM

Re: Space Station K-7
Or maybe the ships aren't in proportion to their (presumed) 100 km proximity to the station, meaning the station could be larger on the outside than appearances suggest.

Timo January 6 2013 10:36 AM

Re: Space Station K-7
Assuming 400 is at the higher end of starship crew sizes, the station as imagined by Mandel ought to suffice for processing up to half a dozen at a time. That is, there'd in that worst-case scenario be something like 1,200 people (half the crews) rummaging through the services and entertainment opportunities - and each of the three "little sombreroes" as depicted seems capable of accommodating 400 people in the sort of conditions a lower middle class hotel would offer today, with some 100 reasonably sized staterooms per sombrero.

That the station had to specifically summon Kirk's ship to deal with the Klingons, rather than just enlist the services of the starship currently foraging at K-7, suggests that starship visits aren't quite that frequent after all. Thus, 300 staterooms, for people for whom anything better than bunk accommodation is likely to be an upgrade, should suffice. Mostly, visiting crews would not be spending their station hours in those staterooms anyway: those might be reserved mainly for non-commercial mingling and prostitution purposes, private business negotiations, and the occasional murder mystery.

The small craft hangar is the part that looks a tad small in Mandel's take, mainly because one would expect lots of support systems in addition to the empty hangar itself. Starship docking would be facilitated by the outspread nature of the little sombreroes, with docking ports potentially hidden inside the top domes (and matching the bottom domes of common Starfleet vessel types?).

Why is illumination indicative of deep space? Wouldn't we rather think that there is a star nearby to provide it? It's not as if we see signs of self-illumination with floodlights or the like - save for the pennants of Kirk's ship in the DS9 version, rather tastefully done so as not to contradict the lack thereof in the TOS version.

Timo Saloniemi

Wingsley January 7 2013 02:09 AM

Re: Space Station K-7
^ Prostitution should be obsolete in the STAR TREK Universe. The advent of sexually-equipped androids and/or sexual holograms would make a living "sex worker" in to a "dunsel". :wtf:

I wonder what the size of the station would have to be if we assume it is large enough to have even greater capacity of staterooms, hangars and creature comforts, etc...

Albertese January 7 2013 02:32 AM

Re: Space Station K-7
I dunno, I expect there's always going to be a taste for the real deal. Otherwise, what's the point of Orion slave girls...

Also, give how adamant our heroes are not to be subjected to false realities, I think it's fair to say there would still be prostitution of some variety...


Timo January 7 2013 09:12 AM

Re: Space Station K-7
At the Mandel size, the malls and parklands of the station are already impressively big; the latter especially would be an important step up from what starships can offer, and sufficient for making visiting crews happy.

It's the general logistics aspect of the station that prompts some questions. DS9 was nicely "overengineered" for the role of commerce hub - we got the impression the some 300 crew and all the visitors and cargo were rattling inside the gutted refinery, and there might have been entire "haunted sectors" to the installation where nobody really went. But there are no cargo bays in evidence in Mandel's K-7, just those "raw materials" tanks in the booms.

Yet the temporary storage of all that grain doesn't seem to be outside the parameters of the station: the grain silos even appear designed for the purpose (assuming a cart of some sort will slide in place beneath those hatches normally, and the operator won't volunteer to stand where Kirk stood!)...

Timo Saloniemi

Wingsley January 9 2013 06:07 AM

Re: Space Station K-7
The funny thing about Mandel's K-7 blueprints is his crew roster. It's all Starfleet officers, no indication of civilian workers or enlisted personnel. That struck me as a throwback to the Franz Joseph works of the time.

The hangar area seems way too small for a thriving station, with very little room for embarked craft like scoutships or shuttlecraft, and none left over for travel pods, work bees and the like.

It is neat, though, how Mandel designed the innards of the station like a Federation starship. Has anyone ever done any artwork showing a starship physically docked at one of these kinds of stations?

I have to say one more thing, looking over Mandel's exterior drawings: as expected, this station design is pure TOS. It is obviously familiar with the Enterprise's design theory; exactly a space station analogue to a TOS Federation starship.

I think it would be neat to see a sister-design to this, with another tier of three outer arms and pods on a separate level, situated at angles opposite the K-class trio; kinda like the Cylon basestars in Ron Moore's GALACTICA remake.

I really like the modular concepts in this design.

blssdwlf January 9 2013 06:54 AM

Re: Space Station K-7

Wingsley wrote: (Post 7493719)
Or maybe the ships aren't in proportion to their (presumed) 100 km proximity to the station, meaning the station could be larger on the outside than appearances suggest.

I had gathered that only the Klingon ship was said to be 100km away when they arrived initially. After two or three scenes they could've moved closer to the station...

Robert Comsol January 9 2013 11:34 AM

Re: Space Station K-7
Here's the screencap from TOS:

As I do see it, the only characteristics that can be helpful to determine the real size are

a) the height of the deck levels suggested by the windows (if you disregard these huge vertical starbase skyscraper panoramic windows, the makers of TOS-R completely failed to notice:
b) the size of the hangar bay door (I'm not aware they had energetic atmosphere screens during the time of TOS)
c) the size of the RCS / impulse engine block of the station, attached to the main section (if you believe that to be).

Was K-7 supposed to be a city in space (like the movies' Earth Spacedock) or merely a little outpost far out in the Frontier?

I tend to regard it rather as a little outpost, but that's of course entirely my personal take.


Timo January 9 2013 12:37 PM

Re: Space Station K-7
I guess the impression that it should be capable of providing entertainment for hundreds of people comes from the fact that two starships visiting it posed so little visible trouble.

However, the station did call for aid when a Klingon ship appeared, despite said ship no doubt broadcasting messages of peace and benign intent in order to better complete her devious mission. And the result was that very small numbers of Klingons or Federation personnel were allowed aboard. So perhaps this single bar was the only thing the station had to offer in terms of creature comforts after all? Perhaps having a hundred of anything suddenly appear on the station would mean ruination, regardless of whether they were Klingons or business friends of Cyrano Jones?

We might assume the station has no capabilities of starship maintenance or even small craft support, and is perhaps even dedicated to the logistical supporting of Sherman's Planet. What appears curious regarding that is the great number of portholes, suggesting an emphasis on accommodation in comfort, and also making it difficult to see where and how the logistics tasks could be handled. Why place all the cargo processing systems at the difficult-to-reach core of the station and cover them with porthole-equipped spaces?

We might also speculate that the station is mainly a dormitory of sorts for colonists waiting to settle on a planet that is only gradually being converted for habitation. Outside visitors might actually be quite rare.

About the only thing we can decisively rule out is a defensive role with armaments capable of standing up against starships...

Timo Saloniemi

Wingsley January 9 2013 04:52 PM

Re: Space Station K-7
It was clearly understood in both "The Trouble with Tribbles" and "The Ultimate Computer" that the space stations in question were not full-blown starbases. I would agree that they weren't Spacedock-style cities-in-space, either. OTOH, they aren't Regula One, either.

For these TOS stations to make sense for me, they have to be self-contained vessels, capable of supporting their crews (possibly hundreds, if not a thousand or more guests) indefinitely without re-supply of the essentials. (Trading goods would be another matter.)

For a starbase in deep space, there may actually be more than one structure located in a small area of space. Maybe a K-like space station would be the administrative hub, and nearby would be a few spacedocks, and maybe some other, smaller facilities for weapons or sensor-equipment or whatever. So it could be more like a space "yard".

Timo January 9 2013 05:08 PM

Re: Space Station K-7
We know deep space stations aren't necessarily in the middle of nowhere as, despite the name, they can in fact orbit planets. K-7 could well have been part of a star system's infrastructure, dependent on regular supply from a nearby colony (Sherman's?) in addition to perhaps helping with managing a number of other colonies at somewhat greater distances. It's not as if DS9 was ever marketed as wholly self-sufficient, either.

As for the yard idea, the storing of the grain aboard K-7 itself remains an oddity. Why would an administrative hub feature grain silos if alternate facilities were available for cargo traffic?

Timo Saloniemi

Robert Comsol January 9 2013 06:14 PM

Re: Space Station K-7
Come to think about (if the yellow square hatch on the Enterprise's teardrop is a docking hatch) the three outer saucers of the space station might allow the docking of a starship from below...

Given the context of the story, however, Kirk wasn't willing to get harbored and audiences might have gotten confused as to where they were (seeing the ship through the station manager's office window provided a clear distinction).

Would have been nice to see such a docking realized in either "The Trouble With Tribbles" or "The Ultimate Computer" TOS-R.


Timo January 9 2013 06:26 PM

Re: Space Station K-7
Indeed. But transporters are such a convenience in the 23rd century already that hard dockings might in fact be extremely rare events.

If "clumsy" and "primitive" means of spacecraft interaction still are practiced, there is always also the possibility of the segments of the sombrero rims sliding open, that is, pivoting on the central axis and overlapping to open a wedge into the rim. There might be some massive easy-access hold capacity there; all the habitat volume might be concentrated inside the porthole-covered cones.

Timo Saloniemi

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