The Spacedock-class (sometimes referred to as the Stardock-class) is the largest orbital starbase in use with the Federation Starfleet. At the time of the initial construction of the Earth Spacedock in the 23rd century it was the largest artificial satellite ever constructed by the Federation. Today the Spacedock-class design is used throughout the Federation core in orbit of key worlds and serves not only Starfleet but civilian craft as well.
For many years Starfleet depended on single-ship orbital platform facilities for the construction and maintenance of its starships. However, the rapid expansion of the Federation during the late 22nd and early 23rd centuries was fuelling an increase in the size of Starfleet and the existing platforms were becoming unable to cope. By 2264 Starfleet was petitioning for a major new orbital facility to be built, and in 2266 it was decided to proceed with this project. The requirement was for a space station which would put all the refining, processing, manufacturing and assembly facilities required for manufacture and maintenance of starships into one place. When finished in 2278 the station was essentially a small city, dedicated to Starship production. This enabled Starfleet to eliminate much of the transportation requirements previously involved in starship construction, the resources saved by this centralization covered the initial outlay for Spacedock within ten years.
Once it was realized that such efficiency savings could be achieved, it was decided to proceed with further stations in other major systems. Starfleet has continued to add new Spacedock facilities to its inventory ever since, with a total of 33 now.
Over their lives these stations have seen many revolutionary changes. The advent of industrial scale replication in the 24th century was a major revolution throughout the Federation and led to a major refurbishment of the manufacturing facilities on the Spacedocks. This freed up much internal volume, allowing a considerable increase in living standards for the crews. Many different sensor and weapon suites have been utilized on these stations over the years, the most recent being improvements to the shields and weapons to counter the Borg and Dominion threats.
During the last five years the Federation has seen a marked upswing in the level of threat directed toward it. As a result of this all Spacedock facilities have been working at maximum output in order to put as many new ships into the fleet as possible, as well as producing weapons for ground forces and other war materials. As such, these stations continue to form the backbone of the Federations war production capability.
Although the Spacedock series of stations proved highly successful, by the 2330’s Starfleet faced a problem with its latest ships. The trend had been for ever larger designs, and all projections were that this trend would continue for the foreseeable future. The Spacedock stations needed considerable redesign and refit of their main docking area in order to accommodate these ships, a re-working which would reduce the efficiency of the stations handling arrangements and cause serious problems to Starfleets maintenance schedules during the work. It was decided to re-build the small number of stations in existence, making them much larger facilities which would be easily capable of handling significant numbers of the largest starships. All new Space Docks would be build using the new specs.
The sheer size of these stations was far beyond anything previously envisaged, a factor which weighed heavily on the minds of the design team. The original proposals called for an all-new station configuration, but the detailed design work for this would have taken at least fifteen years to complete. In order to cut this figure down as far as possible it was decided to use the existing design, scaled up.
Construction of Starbase 74, the first of the new, larger facilities, begun in 2342. Despite many technical problems the project kept to its projected build time of 14 years and the Starbase was commissioned in 2356. Since this time all original facilities have been refit (including Earth’s Spacedock), with a total of 33 completed with 3 more underway. Starfleet eventually refitted all Stardocks to the larger configuration.