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Seen in TNG's first season episode "The Measure of a Man", Starbase 173 was a re-use of the Orbital Office model which was first seen in Star Trek : The motion Picture and has formed the basis of several stations since. As with Regula 1, Starbase 173 was upside down compared to the original office. In fact, the only external difference between Starbase 173 and Regula is in the mysterious "dome object" location on top of one of the circular modules attached to the station. Many have claimed this as some kind of weapon, usually a super-sized phaser cannon, but this makes little sense. The location and design of the dome means it can only cover about a third of the sky without changing the orientation of the station - if it were a weapon you would expect either a location that gives a greater field of fire, two or three of the weapons installed to give all-round coverage, or a combination of the two.

My take on the object is that it is a telescope of some description.

It's tempting to scale Starbase 173 to the same size as Regula, but "The Measure of a Man" indicates otherwise. The first shot on the images page shows the Enterprise-D in front of the station; the hangar bay behind the ship is clearly almost half the length of the Enterprise, even if we ignore the effects of perspective. This scales the whole station to almost three and a half kilometres tall, far larger than Regula. Happily, it makes the stations upper section virtually identical in size to Starbase 375 even though the two figures are arrived at from totally different effects sequences made over a decade apart (in real time as well as on the Trek timeline). As a result, I've made the upper sections of the two stations exactly the same size, so I can say one design is a direct development of the other.

So far as I know, we've never seen a 173-type Starbase in any other episode. I've pitched the specs so that it's roughly in proportion to the size difference between this station and Spacedock.

Last updated : 16th January 2000.
This page is Copyright Graham Kennedy 1998.

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