Delta Vega Station was an unmanned lithium cracking station on the planet Delta Vega, operated by the Galactic Mining Company. The station was fully automated, with visits from ore ships once every twenty years. It contained potentially explosive fuel bins, at least three fission chambers, a control room, and an area which could be used as a prison cell.
In 2265, when the USS Enterprise was disabled after an encounter with the galactic barrier, Spock recommended that the Enterprise crew adapt some of the station's power packs to regenerate the ship's engines. Captain James T. Kirk also decided to hold Gary Mitchell in the station's prison cell; however, Mitchell was able to escape. (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before")
Depiction in script
In the script for "Where No Man Has Gone Before", this facility is characterized as a "well-kept building" and is said to consist of "huge towers, vats, and coils, stretching out into the distance." Also, although there are three establishing shots of the station (in two different scenes of the episode, with the second shown soon after the first), neither the second nor third of those shots are scripted.
The station's control room is described, in the script, as "the nerve center of this huge lithium cracking plant. Although the contour and decor differs from our ship's bridge, the fact it uses the same type power and computers makes for items of similarity, particularly in the instrument panels. It has a main window which in a limited shot or two will overlook the distant stretch of planet Delta-Vega."
The script commonly refers to the prison cell as a "maximum security area" and the scripted description of the location reads, "It contains a single bed and some equipment such as seen at the Enterprise's sickbay. The main difference -- there is no doorway, rather a large open portal across the diameter of which plays lighting sources and some occasional force field effect, which give the impression of a force field across the portal, denying passage to or from the security room." Not only does the script describe the prison cell's force field at length (continuing to occasionally do so) but the teleplay also refers, in an ultimately-unused moment, to "an industrial station communicator" in the area immediately outside the cell.
Using an actual chemical facility was initially considered for the filming of the Delta Vega Station. Director James Goldstone later explained, "They were talking about shooting in a chemical factory downtown [....] All sorts of elaborate stuff, and we determined to do it all onstage." (The Star Trek Interview Book, p. 107) As the script suggests, the single bed in the prison cell was reused from the Enterprise sickbay set. (text commentary for "Where No Man Has Gone Before", TOS Season 1 DVD special features)
The matte painting used to establish the station's exterior was done in post-production. (The Star Trek Interview Book, p. 107) It was originally illustrated by noted visual effects artist Albert Whitlock. (The Star Trek Interview Book, p. 108; Star Trek Encyclopedia, 3rd ed., p. 111; et al.) The same painting was later modified and reused as the surface portion of the Tantalus penal colony in the original version of TOS: "Dagger of the Mind". (Star Trek Encyclopedia, 3rd ed., p. 111)
The matte painting was likewise tweaked for the enhanced version of its appearance as the Delta Vega Station in the remastered "Where No Man Has Gone Before". Explained VFX Line Producer Michael Okuda, "[It] was reworked slightly by Max Gabl [....] What we wanted very much to do was to respect the original geometry of the shot, to respect the original design, the funky tank-farm architecture. What we had Max do was go in, clean up some of the matte lines, improve the textures of the rocks. But for the most part, we kept it pretty much like the original, because it was so iconic." (Starfleet Access for "Where No Man Has Gone Before", TOS Season 1 Blu-ray special features)
For the second scene in which the station's exterior is depicted, the creators of Remastered TOS endeavored to add some indication of time having passed since the first scene wherein the painting is shown (based on Dr. Mark Piper saying, "There was some morning light," in reference to a moment shortly after the second of the two scenes). Okuda offered, "The first two versions of this matte painting were pretty much what they were in the original, but [...] [the third] version was actually a pre-dawn version, so you see little lights on the tank farm, we see the light in the sky, so this changed. Not a huge difference but just one of the things we could do to tie in the sense of time a little better." (Starfleet Access for "Where No Man Has Gone Before", TOS Season 1 Blu-ray special features)
The alternate reality version of this lithium cracking station appears in Star Trek Ongoing, Issue 2, the second issue in IDW Publishing's Star Trek ongoing series of comics. In that adapted version of events from "Where No Man Has Gone Before", the station is named Mineral Processing Facility DSE-Grissom and Kirk refers to the cell in which Mitchell is imprisoned as "the station's crew quarters."