Nice job, I'd have a few comments, though.
1. I've checked the factions list and noted that I'm becoming friendly with the Kilrathi by killing pirates and vice versa
. As a side note, though, I sometimes get neutral Kilrathi or pirates attack me, so I guess it's a way of bypassing Freelancer's "no landing on hostile bases" problem (in Priv you could land on Perry with Confed all over you, you couldn't do that in Freelancer without some modifications) - after all, I haven't tried being a pirate yet because of the no landing thingy - I'm just too lazy to go searching for pirate bases, I suppose.
2. IMHO, there are too many debris and asteroid fields around (maybe you could make them smaller - a system-wide debris field in New Detroit and Perry?).
3. You have to kill enemies quickly, or someone will steal the kill
. There's a lot of encounters, which I like, but also too many friendlies around (I get no loot if it isn't me who finishes the guy off, and it isn't all that easy, these heavy fighters behave like heavy freighters instead - this is how I imagined flying a Drayman would feel). My 6 fusion cannons finish almost everything off quite quickly, the only problem is waiting for the ship to turn in the desired direction. The ships were more maneuverable in the WC games
. Or is it just my feeling?
4. I had to run FLModelTool on your models to make them show properly in the game (they had no radius and didn't show when the center was off-screen - VERY annoying with bases). Maybe you could run it on them for the next version? BTW, it also has an option to automatically resize the .sur file according to the .cmp file.
5. You could make the cruise speed faster again (300 is too slow, I get bored while traveling - most of the time the pirates are friendly, 'cause I kill Kilrathi - I found myself engaging neutral Kilrathi or pirates from time to time).
6. There could be more pirate bases around, 'cause I guess you can't land anywhere if you're a pirate (Freelancer problem, has something to do with this 'docking ring' thingy - why couldn't you land on a planet without clearance?). I haven't experimented, so if it's solved already, sorry.
These are by no means serious problems - good job and keep it up! I like the battles - good idea increasing the frequency. I also like the variety in ship selection, you could make cockpits for them, though - I like good cockpits and as yet I haven't seen any in any Freelancer mod.
Freelancer should have variable shields (e.g. like in Privateer - separate shields for separate directions) - it would make it feel less 'arcade', which is a problem with all today's games, though (the 'arcadishness').