Downbelow Station is a science fiction novel written by C. J. Cherryh and published in 1981 by DAW Books. It won the Hugo Award in 1982, was shortlisted for a Locus Award that same year and was named by Locus Magazine as one of the top 50 science fiction novels of all time in 1987.
The book is set in Cherryh's Alliance-Union universe during the Company Wars period, specifically late 2352 and early 2353. The book details events centering on a space station in orbit around Pell's World (also known as "Downbelow") in the Tau Ceti star system. The station serves as the transit point for ships moving between the Earth and Union sectors of the galaxy.
Space is explored not by short-sighted governments, but by the Earth Company, a private corporation which becomes enormously wealthy and powerful as a result. Nine star systems are found to lack planets suitable for colonization, so space stations are built in orbit instead, stepping-stones for further exploration. Then, Pell's World is found to be not only habitable, but already populated by the gentle, sentient (if technologically backward) Hisa. Pell Station is built. The planet is nicknamed "Downbelow" by the stationers, who also start to call their home "Downbelow Station".
When Earth's out-of-touch policies cause it to begin losing control of its more distant stations and worlds, it builds a fleet of fifty military carriers, the Earth Company Fleet, to enforce its will. This leads to the prolonged Company War with the breakaway Union, based at Cyteen, another hospitable world. Caught in between are the stationers and the merchanters who man the freighters that maintain interstellar trade.