Captain’s log: Star date, 1998, week of Sept. 28. The cast and crew of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” begin the final season of their seven-season hitch on a rundown space station in the middle of nowhere — also recognized by keen-eyed Starfleet brass as stages 4, 17 and 18 on the Paramount lot.

“Like ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation,’ we always intended to tell the story of ‘Deep Space Nine’ in the span of seven years,” said creator/exec producer Rick Berman in announcing the series finale. “As we embark on the seventh and final season, we look forward to the challenge of concluding this important chapter in ‘Star Trek’ history.”

“Deep Space Nine” may not go out on as high a Nielsen note as “Next Generation,” which wrapped a hugely successful run in 1994, but “DS9” is hardly floundering. The show, which bowed in January 1993, consistently ranks among the top three firstrun syndie action hours in household and demographic ratings.

More poignantly for Trekkies, “Deep Space Nine’s” exit next year will leave UPN’s “Star Trek: Voyager” as the sole contemporary keeper of the “Trek” flame on TV. There’s no word yet from the studio on whether a new “Trek” series is in the works.

Although considered a flop in its initial 1966-69 run on NBC, the sci-fi franchise created by the late Gene Roddenberry has gone on to generate billions of dollars for Par and others from syndication, spinoffs, feature films and all manner of merchandise. The latest “Trek” pic, “Star Trek: Insurrection,” is due out in December.

The season opener of “Deep Space Nine” will introduce a new character, Starfleet ensign Ezri Dax, played by newcomer Nicole de Boer, repped by manager Steven Fenton and William Morris Agency’s Jeff Witjas.