Space Station
Its continuing mission: To boldly stay right where it is. (And occasionally get attacked.)

"That's no moon. It's a space station!"
Obi-wan Kenobi, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

An artificial structure in space, where people live and work. Unlike the Cool Starship, the Space Station is usually fixed in orbit around a planet or at a particular point in space. It also allows for the construction of a standing studio set and avoids expensive location shoots.

Real-world space stations have existed since 1971 (Salyut 1) and four of them — the International Space Station, the Chinese Tiangong-1, and Genesis I & II (both unmanned) — are currently in orbit. These are all much smaller than what one is used to in sci-fi shows. The list for the interested can be seen below.

Space stations in fiction have a tendency to be very large, sometimes housing an entire city. Many have adopted a wheel design for a centrifuge-based system of gravity (unless Artificial Gravity is employed), but this is not obligatory. If sufficiently large to support a sizable permanent population, a space-station may be referred to as an "orbital habitat" or "space colony". Don't drop it! The problem of gas exchange and food production is often solved by incorporating a closed ecosystem and green plants onboard, sometimes in dirt, sometimes hydroponics, sometimes algae aquaculture.

Fictional examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Gundam:
    • Very large space-stations are integral to the background of the anime universe(s). The designs are lifted almost verbatim from O'Neill's The High Frontier, which was new when the first Gundam series was in development.
    • The After Colony timeline (Mobile Suit Gundam Wing) uses the Stanford Torus design instead, while most colonies seen in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED have an hourglass shape.
  • GaoGaiGar has the Gutsy Galaxy Guard (3G) Orbit Base used during the second half of the show after the 31 Machine Primevals destroyed their Underwater Base.
  • The main cast of Planetes operate out of a space station in low-Earth orbit.
  • In Legend of Galactic Heroes, the Galactic Empire has a penchant of constructing large space stations. For example, the two largest space fortresses featured, Iserlohn Fortress and Geiersburg Fortress, were built by the Empire. In the first Gaiden prequel series, it is even revealed that the Empire has constructed a huge artificial resort satellite which orbits a gas giant.
  • Crest of the Stars: The Abh tend to live almost exclusively on space stations, only visiting planetary surfaces when its absolutely necessary. This fits with their view of themselves; their society's name in their language means "Kin of the Stars", and they consider space to be their "homeland". Their capital Lakfakalle is a gigantic swarm of huge spacestations orbiting a star in a system with no habitable worlds.
  • Macross features the Zentraedi Factory Satellite, a gigantic automated factory for the guns, ships and battlepods of the Zentraedi, with every Zentraedi main fleet having about twenty, and completely necessary for the Zentraedi continual survival due their inability to build and repair ships anything by themselves (the Protoculture, who created the Zentraedi as their slave soldiers, made sure they wouldn't have these abilities as an additional way to control them. It failed, but they still haven't learned how to repair and build things by themselves). The original series shows the UN Spacy hijacking one of the defeated Bodol Main Fleet, with expanded universe material adding they actually hijacked the whole set and that human emigration fleets will do the same to any satellite they stumble upon.
    • In Macross II's Alternate Continuity Zentraedi Fleets appear to only have a single satellite each, with the UN Spacy capturing the one of the Bodol fleet and the one of a different Zentraedi Main Fleet.
  • Being born from the fusion of Macross with two other series, Robotech also has the Zentraedi Factory Satellite (through renamed as the Robotech Factory Satellite. Also, there's apparently only one here). Original to the series we have Space Station Liberty (first mentioned in the series but only shown in Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles), a former Zentraedi military base that Earth forces captured and towed in the Sol system.

    Fan Works 

    Comic Books 
  • Justice League of America:
    • The Justice League have the Watchtower and its larger, improved successor, Watchtower II. Its position in orbit with a giant laser cannon pointing down become a point of contention with the US government (at least in the cartoon).
    • And for many years before the Watchtower, the JLA had an orbiting satellite space station, through the 70s and part of the 80s (until the "Detroit League" era and the Crisis finished it off).
  • Marvel Star Wars comics have Droid World, an enormous space station overseen by a cyborg named Kligson, which was home to countless droids who wanted nothing to do with the organic races of the galaxy.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Moonraker features a station that serves as the villain's main lair. Incidentally, it was the last set built for the Bond films by Ken Adam, who was production designer for the Bond films until then.
  • The wheel-like Station Five seen in the opening space scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey is perhaps the most famous of all sci-fi movie space stations.
  • In Star Wars, the Death Star is a cross between a space station and a starship because it can travel between star systems under its own power, but is huge (and round) enough to be mistaken for a moon. The EU and Legends are absolutely in love with space stations, using them for everything from shipyards and defense platforms to casinos. A great many of them end up in little bitty pieces by the end of whatever work they appear in...
  • Project Moonbase (1953) had the protagonists stop off at a US military space station on the way to the moon. We see people walking along the corridors upside down past people going the other way due to its variable Artificial Gravity.
  • Conquest Of Space (George Pal's 1955 sci-fi flop after his previous blockbusters Destination Moon and When Worlds Collide) has The Wheel, whose design was taken from the famous illustrated book of that name. It's the first thing seen in the movie.
    The Narrator: This is a story of tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, when men have built a station in space, constructed in the form of a great wheel, and set a thousand miles out from the Earth, fixed by gravity, and turning about the world every two hours, serving a double purpose: an observation post in the heavens, and a place where a spaceship can be assembled, and then launched to explore other planets, and the vast universe itself, in the last and greatest adventure of mankind, the plunge toward the... CONQUEST OF SPACE!
  • The space station over Solaris in Solaris is large, but falling apart due to madness and disuse.
  • Disney Channel Zenon movies; a lot of the action is based in Space Stations.
  • At the beginning of Saturn 3 one of the characters leaves a space station also featuring people walking on the floor and ceiling.
  • Elysium is a man-made installation orbiting Earth, where the privileged of humanity live apart from the destitute masses.
  • Fleet Battlestation Ticonderoga in Starship Troopers. It serves as a staging point for the Federation invasion of Klendathu and background material indicates it is FTL-capable.
  • The Yorktown in Star Trek Beyond, a veritable city in space, surrounded by a bubble. While everyone is impressed by the feat of engineering, McCoy's reaction is to compare it to a snowglobe that's about to break.
  • The introduction to Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets shows the evolution of a space station into the eponymous city in space, and its role as a diplomatic nexus first for human races, then alien ones.

  • Older Than Television: The Martians in the novel Auf zwei Planeten ("Two Planets", 1897, incomplete English edition 1971) by German science-fiction pioneer Kurd Laßwitz have a circular space station (diameter: 320 metres) above Earth. It is not in orbit, but suspended in space above the North Pole, where they installed an anti-gravity device.
  • Wernher von Braun, a fan of Laßwitz', wrote a short story obviously inspired by the opening of Auf zwei Planeten, about members of an Arctic expedition being rescued and taken to a space station. The story, Lunetta, was printed in 1930 in the school magazine of the Hermann-Lietz-Schule, which the 17-to-18-year old Braun attended. The titular station ("Lunetta" = "small moon") is among other things used for weather control, using a giant mirror.
  • The Scorpion Star in The Lord of Opium. Revealed to be controlling the eeijts in Opium. Matt later destroys it, along with the 300 people aboard.
  • In David Wingrove's Chung Kuo series, there are gigantic space stations for growing food.
  • Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold:
    • Most of the action of Ethan of Athos takes place on Kline Station.
    • A significant portion of the action of The Vor Game takes place on a station in the Hegen Hub.
    • A significant portion of the action of Komarr takes place on a station near the wormhole connecting Barrayar and Komarr.
  • The Battle School in Ender's Game: The gravity was said to be provided by rotation, leaving the hub in the middle with no gravity, allowing them to have their battles in weightlessness. However at least one character points out that this explanation doesn't actually add up based on how the battlerooms are actually hooked up. It's made explicit in Ender's Shadow that they actually have gravity-manipulation technology that they reverse engineered from the "dead" Bugger ships in the second Bugger War.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Centerpoint Station is a station larger than the Death Star which is at the midpoint between two worlds that revolve around each other in the Corellian system. No one knows who built it or how. The Corellian Trilogy involves it, a place inside it called Hollowtown, and the fact that a superweapon was built into it, with the ability to destroy distant stars.
    • It returns briefly in the New Jedi Order, when someone tries to use it to fire at Vong worldships but misses and hits some allies. And then they refuse to use it again.
    • A considerable part of Legacy of the Force is about the Corellians, trying to secede from the Galactic Federation of Free Worlds, commanding Centerpoint Station, which is destroyed eventually.
    • ... which might have been a mistake, since in Fate of the Jedi it appears to have caged an Eldritch Abomination. note  Making Centerpoint a combination of superweapon, can of evil, and place for a few thousand people to live and grow food.
  • The 1950's sci-fi juvenile Islands in the Sky by Arthur C. Clarke is about a teenager who wins a trip to the Inner Station, a manned satellite in low-earth orbit used for repairing and refueling spacecraft. Clarke was famous for predicting the use of artificial satellites for telecommunication (though his were manned).
  • Several space stations are featured in Honor Harrington. The one that gets focused upon most often is HMSS Hephaestus, a massive space station that is also the primary dockyard for the Royal Manticoran Navy.
    • Most of the third book, The Short Victorious War, centers around Hancock Station, and the defense of it during the opening hours of the First Haven-Manticore War.
    • Mission of Honor depicts the destruction of all of the major space stations in the Manticore system, with a death toll in the millions, including civilians.
    • In addition to the major space stations used in various places, there are also numerous Space Forts used to guard wormhole junctions, and smaller defensive platforms in orbit over major planets.
  • Willy Ley wrote several books aimed at children describing and illustrating space stations, complete with tug vessels to help large space ships dock.
  • The semi-fiction futurist writings of Gerard O'Neill from the seventies and eighties, especially The High Frontier. All the technologies outlined in the books are based on theory and designs from real academics. O'Neill is often credited for inventing these types of designs; he did not. However, he did move a lot of them quite far along Mohs Scale of Sci-Fi Hardness.
  • The Star Trek: Stargazer novels introduce the Oblivion, or rather the Obl'viaan in the original Ubarrak. It's an enormous construction in orbit of a lifeless planet, consisting of hundreds (if not thousands) of ships and stations welded together. In fact, it's not so much a space station as a space city. It is definitely of a Wretched Hive variety. It's also the place where Picard first meets Guinan, although she's a little upset he doesn't know who she is (she's also still suffering from Nexus withdrawal). Naturally, the fact that it's built from numerous ships of different cultures proves to be important in several ways.
  • Part of Sergey Lukyanenko's novel Competitors takes place on a large, disc-shaped station called the Platform or Bun. Nobody knows for sure who built the station (it was the Bugs), but ordinary people keep getting sent there and are given enough funds to purchase a small ship and start their career in space. Occasionally, the Platform undergoes attacks by a race known only as the Bugs. No matter their clan affiliation or criminal status, all gather to defend the station.
  • Sholan Alliance: There's a major orbiting station above Shola that plays a minor part in the series. There are also hollowed out asteroids orbiting distant stars that play vital plot roles in the later books.
  • C. J. Cherryh's Alliance/Union universe features many space stations, most of humanity's exosolar colonies are torus stations built first as research stations and later as trading posts since inhabitable planets are rare and Faster-Than-Light Travel wasn't developed for centuries after expansion started.
  • The titular Paradyzja from the novel of Janusz Zajdel is one with a Dystopia inside. Except it's really on the surface of a planet, so—subverted?
  • Alien in a Small Town has Felice Station orbiting Earth, described as "the most vital port city in the solar system."
  • Halo: First Strike has the Unyielding Hierophant, a Covenant battlestation 30-km long and over 10-km in circumference; Johnson describes it as looking like "two squids kissing". It makes a brief cameo in one of the Halo 2: Anniversary terminals.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5:
    • The show's primary setting, the eponymous station, takes place on an O'Neill Cylinder. Various fluff even call all Babylon stations O'Neill-class, while other human stations are wheel-shaped.
    • Centauri stations look like two pyramids attached at the base.
    • Various other space stations make very brief appearances, including two previous Babylon stations and a space station near Io.
  • Star Trek:
    • The titular setting of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
    • Also Spacedock in Star Trek III, and the titular starbase in the Star Trek: Vanguard book series.
    • Plus Space Station K-7, which had some trouble with Tribbles...
    • Numerous space stations and starbases appear throughout the franchise, ranging from those barely big enough to dock the Enterprise to, to ones big enough to house entire fleets inside of. They mostly look the same, but at different scales and angles.
    • Hilariously, despite the current page image and text, the very first episode of Deep Space Nine has the eponymous station move from one location to another under its own force. It's still basically stationary by Star Trek standards, since it is stuck in a single system. Somewhat justified in that many real-world space stations have maneuvering thrusters for station-keeping, and Chief O'Brien treknobabbled his way through the rest.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000's Satellite of Love.
  • Blake's 7's Terran Federation has a giant ring-shaped space station as the headquarters of their evil version of Starfleet. There's also Space City, an ostensibly neutral Vice City secretly run by the organized crime group Terra Nostra.
  • Destination Space (1959). Pilot for a TV series that was never taken up. Involved a space station damaged by a meteorite and efforts to send a rescue mission.
  • Earth II (1971). Another pilot for a never-filmed TV series about life on a large space station. The cast was led by Gary Lockwood of 2001 fame. The plot involved efforts to stop a nuclear weapon launched by the Chinese from reaching the station.
  • Ingrid's space colony in Starstuff.
  • In Thunderbirds, Thunderbird 5, used to monitor all the world's emergency communications. At the time, I guess no one thought an unmanned satellite could do the job. Operated by a single person, almost always Gerry Anderson's Unfavorite, John Tracy.
  • The Stargate-verse shows a few space stations, including the ISS.
    • In Stargate SG-1, the only Goa'uld space station shown is in the Hasara system and used as a meeting place for the System Lords. It is later destroyed by the Replicators.
    • In Stargate Atlantis, the Midway station is located halfway between the Milky Way and the Pegasus galaxies and serves as a hub for the McKay-Carter Intergalactic Gate Bridge, until the Wraith captures it and sets the station to self-destruct.
  • Kamen Rider Fourze has the M-BUS, the headquarters for the Anti Zodiarts Union. It fires a beam of Cosmic Energy that enables Kamen Rider Meteor to transform, and can double as a Kill Sat.
  • Many space stations of various shapes and sizes are shown in Andromeda. The largest one is the Arcology, a massive space habitat filled with Technical Pacifists. The Arcology does have a slipdrive, although it's ancient (almost Steam Punk-like) and non-functional.
  • Doctor Who has several episodes that take place entirely on space stations.
    • Including "The Wheel in Space" and "The Arc In Space" in which many humans have been cryogenically frozen to repopulate earth after a disaster.
    • The new series feature Satellite Five, a major news network that turns out to be built specifically to house the Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe. The Doctor returns there later to find that, a hundred years later, the station, now called the Game Station, has become home to deadly reality and game shows (as a front for the Daleks to take humans and make more Daleks from them).
    • Season 5 also features an asteroid station called Demon's Run.
    • The season 10 episode "Oxygen" features a station owned by a corporation that makes it'a employees wear spacesuits onboard to save money on oxygen. Any oxygen not contained in a suit is automatically emptied into space to keep the market lucrative.
  • The 100: The Ark, where the main characters come from, was constructed by merging together 12 national space stations and thousands of satellites harvested throughout the years. Because the resources are few and for the most part non-renewable, the inhabitants (who descend from the astronauts of those stations) have established draconian laws such as a one-child policy and making all crimes punishable by death. Even then, air is running out quickly and they are forced to come to desperate measures such as culling part of the population and sending a hundred juvenile criminals to Earth to determine if it's safe to inhabit now.
  • Britannia Seven from the poorly-regarded '70's sitcom Come Back Mrs Noah. Another unsuccessful British sitcom on the same premise was Astronauts, written in The '80s by Graham Garden and Bill Oddie of The Goodies fame.

  • Bally's Star Trek has "Space Station Ko" on the playfield, with the three bumpers representing connected pods.
  • The lower playfield of Space Shuttle is dominated by the massive "Space Shuttle Defender Star Base", while the bumpers in the upper-left corner are connected to form a smaller cluster.
  • Prominently featured on Space Shuttles sequel, the aptly named Space Station. It uses the ring model and slowly spins after certain triggers, but the poor build quality of the model compared to that of Space Shuttle makes it look more like a ring-shaped fluorescent light.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Most Starports in Traveller have an orbital component to deal with heavier traffic and a component planetside. Aside from that there are research stations, minor outposts and the like and occasionally if the jump range is to far a space station will be built in intersteller space to allow transit.
  • About half of transhumanity after the Fall in Eclipse Phase lives in space habitats, since there aren't any planets hospitable to unmodified biomorphs in the solar system anymore.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has a few, usually referred to as Void Stations (including one called Delta Sigma Novem). Some do nothing more than transmit sensor data, while the massive orbital dockyards of Jupiter manufacture the kilometers-long ships of the Imperium.
  • Not many that are mentioned in Rocket Age. Most space ports are built into asteroids, moons or are ground based bases, as gravity (or lack of it) is less of an issue in Rocket Age due to Rule of Cool and space ships that rarely have trouble with re-entry.
  • There are a number of different types of spacestations in BattleTech, but the rarest and most important is the Recharging Station, which is typically located at a star system's zenith or nadir point and uses solar sails to collect solar energy. When a visiting jumpship arrives, the Recharging Station can use a microwave emitter to recharge the jumpship's jump drive in a matter of minutes or hours instead of the ship having to wait days or weeks to recharge via passively collecting solar energy themselves. Never common to begin with, the technical information needed to construct them was lost during the Succession Wars.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Space Station 13. Until the bombs start going off, then its just space.
  • Stations are one of the types of constructs that players can design and build in Star Ruler. They can carry massive defensive weapons, function as a trading hub, orbital refinery, a dry dock, or any combination of the above. Typically placed in orbit around planets, but it's possible to tow them to a new position using a massive carrier, or by yanking it out of orbit with a tractor beam.
  • Building them is a major part of playing Sins of a Solar Empire, and they all have different specialized functions. The first Expansion Pack adds starbases, which can be built anywhere, not just in orbit of your planets. The Vasari starbases can even move around the area but lack phase drives. The starbases can be customized through modules, which can turn them into fortresses, trade hubs, or hangars for huge waves of fighters.
  • The first two acts of Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords take place on two different space stations. Peragus was an asteroid facility, so it may or may not count. The Star Forge from the first game, however, definitely does.
  • The orbiting space station in Cortex Command, called a "Trade Star", plays a central part in the action. From this orbiting station, units and objects come down in drop ships, and units, objects, and gold goes back up. So far, it apparently has no weapons whatsoever that can affect the ground battle.
  • Mass Effect features two Space Stations as important plot locations. The Citadel is the seat of the Galactic government and generally has an Ascetic Aesthetic, Star Trek look (until you get to the Wards) while Omega is a Wretched Hive asteroid base with Cyberpunk Used Future themes. A number of less important stations crop up in sidequests.
    • Shepard is revived on a space station belonging to Cerberus. It's also implied that the Illusive Man's HQ is a space station.
    • Illusive Man's space station is stated to move from system to system in order to keep its location hidden. Only high-ranking operatives are allowed to visit it, and are usually told by the Illusive Man himself where it currently is.
    • The Heretic geth base of operations is a large space station in the middle of nowhere.
    • The True geth build a massive space station in orbit of Rannoch (quarian homeworld) to serve as a giant server to house all geth programs. When the quarians attack in the third game, one of their first targets is the space station. Many programs are destroyed in the process.
    • The fleets of the Systems Alliance (human government) are headquartered on the Arcturus space station. Unfortunately, it's one of the first targets of the Reapers in Mass Effect 3. All you find is the debris field.
  • The Comet Observatory from Super Mario Galaxy.
  • The GDSS Philadelphia from the Command & Conquer: Tiberium series is GDI's heavily defended orbiting command center, from which they run all of their operations of Earth. Until Kane nuked it, that is.
  • Startopia's plot revolved around restoring abandoned spinning wheel-shaped stations. Strangely enough, all space stations in the galaxy appear to have the exact same design. The stations have 3 decks: engineering, pleasure, and bio. Biodeck is the innermost one and uses "nanosoil" to recreate any planetary environment to the point where you can actually grow plants in it. The pleasure deck is all for the entertainment of tourists and employees. The engineering deck (outermost) includes power stations, factories, docks, security stations, communicators, sick bays, sleeping pods, bathrooms, etc.
  • Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force has several space stations, including the Forge and one made up of various ships trapped there welded together. One of the ships making up the latter is a Constitution-class starship from the Mirror Universe. Fans of TOS get a nostalgia fix walking through the halls of the ship, albeit with the Terran Empire logo on all doors.
  • Two types of stations can be built in Haegemonia: Legions of Iron. Both types can move prior to deploying, at which point they are unable to be "undeployed", although the Expansion Pack fixed that. Mining bases are unarmed and position themselves over resource-rich asteroids in order to process them. Military bases can be built of different types, depending on the type of weapons you want them to have (missile, proton, ion, quantum). They cannot use weapons when mobile. They also repair friendly ships in the vicinity. The campaign also has resort and hospital stations, as well as the Darzok HQ, which must be destroyed to win the game. You also find abandoned Solon stations with active defenses.
  • You spend the majority of The Perils of Akumos aboard one. This leads to some rather odd geometry.
  • Sword of the Stars has orbital defense satellites (it's not clear if they're automated or manned) of various sizes with expansions adding large specialized space stations (e.g. command, industry, science, trade, habitat, sensor). In the sequel, you can also build hidden defense bases in asteroid fields in order to launch system defense boats at unsuspecting invaders.
  • Several space stations are shown throughout the Space Quest series. Galaxy Galleria is a large circular mall in space with a zero-gravity area in the center. The StarCon Academy is located aboard a large space station. There's also Molly's Chug & Glug SpaceBar, which you end up destroying, Monolith Burger Fast Food Dive, Shar-Pei's station, Xenon Orbital Station 4, Vohaul's Asteroid of Doom, etc.
  • The final levels of the Mega Man (Classic) (except III and IV, although the latter was actually a battleship) Game Boy series take place on Space Stations; the one used in V looks like it was even based on the Death Star. And then, in Mega Man 10, Wily builds another station that was just an extension of his castle. This one was notorious for the lengthy tracking screen on the map.
  • Several levels in the Marathon series take place on space stations, most of them owned by the UESC.
  • Space stations of various types are the only thing in the X-Universe games that players can actually dock at. There's four main categories. Factories take in materials and create products. Trading stations and equipment docks buy and sell certain goods. Shipyards build ships and factories. The one-of-a-kind Player Headquarters can repair, reverse-engineer and manufacture new starships. Several space stations are also Big Dumb Objects; the Torus Aeternal is a Ringworld Planet encircling the Earth which is simultaneously an orbital city, military outpost, and shipyard. The HUB is a miniature Dyson Sphere that can manipulate the game's Portal Network.
  • In Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, you can have bases with Aerospace Complexes launch three kinds of space station once you have the requisite technology:
  • A common setting for levels in many Sonic the Hedgehog games:
  • Civilization: Call to Power allows you (once you research appropriate technology, to build cities in the "space" layer, effectively making them space stations. If you build the Space Elevator wonder, it automatically creates a "space city" right above the city where it was built. Using the elevator to transfer units between the planet and space does not add to pollution, unlike every other method.
  • The Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword total conversion scenario "Final Frontier" allows you to build space stations, which are able to bombard enemy ships from two squares away and house missiles and fighters.
  • One mission of No One Lives Forever features a HARM space station, which Kate must infiltrate. Halfway through, the station is hit with a meteor shower, and Kate must race to complete the mission and find an Escape Pod, as the station breaks apart around her. The station is equipped with a sensor system designed to warn about this sort of thing, but they forgot to plug it in.
  • Starcraft II Heart Of The Swarm has one appear in the campaign, it's basically a Mobile Factory for Wraith fighters and eventually Battlecruisers.
  • The Journeyman Project 2: Buried in Time has one of its timezones set on a space station, at a time just after a meteor shower heavily damaged it. It's here where Arthur, the station's AI, duplicates himself to become Agent 5's companion without damaging the time stream.
  • Portal 2: Two of the many alternate Cave Johnsons run an Aperture Science in a space station. The first is the warden of a space prison complete force field doors and air vents filled with the rotting corpses of previous break out attempts. In another universe Aperture Science relocated to an absolutely huge one comprised of dozens of large "testing spheres" joined together. Unfortunately, no one informed the thousands of test subjects in cryogenic storage of this change. Many of said subjects believe the sudden (to them) change in tests is part of a conspiracy and try to escape the facility, into the vacuum of space.
  • Halo:
    • The series is largely centered around the seven Halo installations, all of which are basically gigantic space stations, large enough to house their own ecosystem. They're also incredibly powerful superweapons. The Ark that built them is even larger, to the point that it has several times the surface area of the Earth and is illuminated by its own star, which orbits it (not the other way around).
    • The opening chapter of Halo 2 puts Master Chief (you) on one of Earth's 300 enormous orbiting defense satellites, each one armed with a Super Magnetic Accelerator Cannon capable of punching straight through a Covenant capital ship in one shot.
    • Halo 4 has Ivanoff Station, a UNSC research facility stationed near Gamma Halo.
  • Mysterious Journey II starts and ends on one. Judging by its external features, this one seems to be built from a hollowed-out asteroid. After 214 years in cryonic suspension, Sen Geder wakes up and is informed by the hologram of a man named Tensa, that the station's orbit has degraded so much that it will fall in 16 days, and this is to be Sen's punishment for causing the nearby planet, Saarpedon, to be stuck as a single valley. Since Sen has no memory of any of these events, it's up to him to discover the truth, and see if he really was guilty for his crimes.
  • You can put your own space stations into orbit in Kerbal Space Program. Assembling large, multi-part stations is a good way to test one's docking skills.
  • System Shock has Citadel Station, owned by the Mega Corp. Tri-Optimum. When you try hacking into their database to learn about the station, TriOp catches you and takes you there, where their sleazy VP Edward Diego offers to let you off the hook if you erase the ethical constraints on the station's AI, SHODAN. Naturally, with the hundreds of weapons and machines on-station, mutagenic viruses on the loose, and you held in stasis for six months to get a neural implant, it doesn't go well.
  • Spacebase DF-9 is currently under development but the Alpha version is already available via Steam. The game involves a Theme Hospital-like construction of a two-D space station, hiring crew to maintain it, and entertaining guests (both humans and aliens) to earn income.
  • The iOS game Space Agency has two space stations: an ISS Expy and a mysterious station that you must investigate in certain missions. In the sandbox mode, you can build your own space stations from scratch using modules you send up.
  • All buildings in Star Trek: Armada and its sequel are space stations for all factions except for Species 8472, who only use Organic Technology (i.e. all their structures are huge organisms that are grown not built). The main structure is the starbase, but there are also shipyards, research structures, and a special weapons structure.
  • Every system in No Man's Sky has one which serves as an interstellar shipyard, upgrading station and trading post for players and NPCs alike; along with being able to buy and sell resources players might find on nearby worlds, players can also buy fuel or upgrades for their Cool Starship and Environmental Suit here.
    • They can also be shot at, which can decrease their rating and affect the quality of goods found there (though they can't be destroyed—every system must have a station), though doing so will result in the station siccing the Space Police on you.
  • Starbases are popular in the Galactic Civilizations games, ranging from Asteroid Mining outposts and cultural installations to military bases and the supernova-slinging Terror Stars.
  • Empire Earth's expansion lets you build one as a Space Age wonder, where it gives a defense boost to spaceships. It's not really in space though, as the game has a bad case of Space Is an Ocean, but built on the edge of a planet.
  • Stellaris has several types. Starbases are built in orbit of your planets and act as a light defense (in the early game, they can easily mop any fleet that enters their attack radius). Defense stations (in three sizes) are very powerful stationary ships the largest can put out enough damage to rival a small fleet, if built correctly, Mining stations, which will extract Minerals and Energy from planets with resources, Research stations, which are the same for research (and stratic resources, which usually appear with Research) Observation posts (like Research Stations, but for worlds with primitive civilizations and offer some features to uplift or otherwise manipulate their culture. Presumably they are all manned, but not enough to warrent any management by the player after building them. A recent update added Habitats, which are essentially buildable planets. They are poor at actual mineral and food production, but work great as energy and research production. Since Stellaris puts limits on planets by star system and not planet, multiple stations in one star system will not count to your core planet cap and is great for tall planets.
  • Metroid: Fusion takes place on board the BSL (Biologic Space Laboratories) station in orbit around the planet SR388, complete with artificial biomes for studying alien creatures in their natural habitats. Unfortunately, this means that there's a lot of biomass hanging around for the X parasites to consume and absorb. At the end of the game Samus performs a Colony Drop to wipe out the X on both the station and the planet below.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • There are two very important space stations in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe: the orbital headquarters of the Global Guardians itself, and the Stronghold Orbital Super-Maximum Detention Center.
  • These are implied to exist in the universe of Nexus Gate though none have been officially named.
  • These are quite popular in the Chakona Space 'Verse.
    • Major stations can be found orbiting Earth and Chakona. Others exist elsewhere.
    • A major station is under construction above Arisia.
    • Numerous mining stations also exist in other systems.
  • Fenspace: The Fen have built a very large number of space stations throughout the solar system. Most of the early ones were built in a rather ramshackle way out of things like shipping containers, water tanks and space shuttle fuel tanks that had been vacuum-sealed and upgraded with handwaved technology, but the later ones, built after the Fen became more well established, are much more sophisticated and pre-planned. They can get rather varied, including callbacks to more retro space station designs (there's three separate Bernal spheres floating around, for instance) and various hollowed-out asteroids. While most space stations took inspiration from some part of science fiction or another to a greater of lesser degree, the one that takes the cake is almost certainly the A Baoa Qu, built by Mobile Suit Gundam fans who went through the trouble of sculpting a rather large asteroid into a mushroom shape so that they could build a replica of the anime's space fortress.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Archer two-parter "Space Race", the Horizon is a massive, futuristic, self-sustaining space station that has been taken over by mutineers who plan to use it to try and colonize mars. It stands out from the show's Retro Universe, and is a direct spoof of the Moonraker example seen above.

Real Life Examples:

  • There were two different designs of the Salyutnote  series—the DOS (Salyut proper) and OPS (Almaznote ) designs. The Almaz stations were experiments into military applications of space stations, and secretly carried a 23mm autocannon (suitably modified for space).
    • Salyut 1/DOS-1 (1971): Only two crews went up to this. The first (Soyuz 10) couldn't open the door. The second (Soyuz 11) got on board and spent 23 days there, but died during reentry when a malfunctioning valve caused their capsule to depressurise.
    • Salyut 2/OPS-1 (1973): An Almaz station. Depressurised on launch after being hit by debris from the Proton launcher, followed by an unexplained explosion (probably caused by faulty wiring) that destroyed the solar panels less than two weeks after reaching orbit. No attempts to visit.
    • Salyut 3/OPS-2 (1974-5): Only had one crew visit. The only Almaz mission to actually do anything military related, it shot off its gun and destroyed a couple of derelict satellites.
    • Salyut 4/DOS-4 (1974-77): Twin to the failed and disowned (from the Salyut program) Kosmos 557/DOS-3. Mounted one solar telescope and two x-ray telescopes, used for deep-space observation.
    • Salyut 5/OPS-3 (1976-77): The last Almaz station.note  First crew forced to return early after psychological problems surfaced in the crew. Second crew failed to dock, and third crew conducted scientific studies.
    • Salyut 6/DOS-5 (1977-82): First of the second-generation stations, and the first to mount two docking ports to allow resupply while a crew was already aboard. Also demonstrated the viability of in-situ modular station construction when the automated TKS logistics module was successfully docked by remote after the last crew departed, paving the way for Mir and the ISS.
    • Salyut 7/DOS-6 (1982-91): Originally the back-up module in case Salyut 6 failed, refurbished and launched due to delays in Mir. System failure led to the batteries failing to charge between crews, forcing an on-site repair after manual docking. Served as a testbed and experimental platform for several Mir technologies.
  • Mirnote  (1986-2001): The first modular space station, assembled with components from multiple launches docked together. This included a core module (DOS-7) that could take four other modules on one end, with another (Kvant) attached on the other end. Later became capable of having the Space Shuttle dock through the use of a universal adapter. One of those modules, Spektr, was rendered unusable after a crew member, attempting to remotely dock an unmanned cargo craft, instead crashed into it, nearly killing everyone on board. First permanently manned station.
  • Polyusnote  (1987): A planned Almaz station, carrying a CO2 laser designed for anti-satellite warfare. Launched upside down due to space restrictions in the Energia, the intention was to yaw the station 180 degrees before firing rockets to place it in permanent orbit, but a failure in the inertial guidance system caused the maneuvering jets to rotate the craft 360 degrees, sending it careening into the atmosphere over the South Pacific.
  • OPSEKnote  (proposed; after 2020): A proposal to assemble a new station using recycled modules from the Russian Orbital Segment of the ISS as the foundation after the latter is decommissioned. It is envisioned to serve as an orbital assembly point and space dock for future manned missions to the Moon and other planets.

  • Manned Orbital Laboratory (1963–1969): A proposed all-military station that was essentially to be a manned spy satellite. Test vehicles were launched and astronauts were trained, but the project was canceled due to cost overruns and the fact that unmanned satellites had become cheaper and more reliable. Several of the MOL astronauts transferred to the NASA astronaut program and flew in the Space Shuttle.
  • Skylab (1973–79): NASA's only self-launched and operated space station, operated from 1973-1974. During its launch one of its main solar wings and the main sunshade was torn off, and the second wing was jammed against the side of the hull by a metal strap, resulting in a loss of power and dangerously high internal temperatures. The first crew sent there was able to release the remaining wing and erect a sunshade that brought temperatures back to survivable levels. Plans were floated to bring Skylab back into functional status for several years, but NASA was ultimately convinced that the Shuttle would not be operational in time to return to Skylab before its orbit decayed too far to recover. De-orbited in 1979, it was replaced by the Spacelab attachment for the Shuttle Orbiter. Debris from the station landed in the Shire of Esperance, Australia, which responded by issuing a $400 fine for littering to the US government.

  • Tiangongnote  1 (2011-present): Launched by China, it is a testbed for the Chinese space program to develop their docking and rendezvous capabilities. The station was visited by two manned missions in 2012 and 2013, and more elaborate stations (Tiangong 2 and 3) are scheduled to be launched in the near future.

  • ISSnote  (1998–present): Biggest one yet built. Consists of components from the planned Russian station Mir-2 (Zarya FGB and Zvezda Service Module (DOS-8)) and American station Freedom (Integrated Truss Structure), as well as modules from space agencies in Japan, Europe, and elsewhere.

    Privately Owned 
  • Bigelow Aerospace
    • Genesis series. These stations are based on NASA's TransHab design for an inflatable space station or moonbase, which is nowhere near as crackpot as it sounds. Thus far, they have been crewed by no organism more complex than a cockroach.
      • Genesis I (2006-present)
      • Genesis II (2007-present)
    • Larger, still in development station modules include the BA-330 and BA-2100/Olympus (numbered after their capacity in cubic meters) will be much more capable for different activities. The Olympus is especially ambitious, as the company founder believes it can be used as a space carrier for small spacecraft.

  • O'Neill cylinder: Proposed by Gerard K. O'Neill in 1976. The design is essentially two massive cylinders positioned side-by-side and linked together at the two ends. The cylinders would rotate to generate artificial gravity. Because hauling the materials to build such a massive space station from the Earth's surface would be incredibly expensive, O'Neill proposed that it would be built in space from raw materials mined on the moon.
    • The O'Neill cylinder is often mentioned together with the Bernal sphere and Stanford torus, which are essentially differently-shaped versions of the same general idea.