Inside a solar system you will have a living world with activities depending on the node type, its controlling faction, and its neighboring nodes. For example, a federation node that borders with a pirate controlled node will have pirate raids from time to time.
The node will house NPC’s (institutes) of different types providing different activities. For example:
Arenas – you can fight against opponents or gamble on the result of a fight. Once you complete a challenge you will get an item or a cash reward, but completing it more times will not get you another reward (or a very small one). Other missions that may be available in arenas are group fights, capture the core, soccer style game (with ships), LoL type game, kill the captain, deathmatch, etc.
Racing tracks – you can race or gamble on the outcome of a race.
Shops – you can buy and sell usable items. Shops will have different prices enabling you to generate money from trading. (The difference from trading in some other games is that the “goods” are items with meaning and function in gameplay, beyond the name and the price.)
Loan sharks – you can take black market loans. If you don’t pay the loan on time the loan shark will have a contract on your head. You can issue contracts on other AI players for a fee. You can complete contracts for money.
Central bank of the galaxy – you can take loans (according to material fortune you have, like the worth of your fleet), invest in other factions (give them money), deposit money, and get interest. You can even try to rob the bank.
Shipyards – in the shipyards you can buy ships to add to your fleet. You can select which ship you directly control, and the others are controlled by the AI or other local players. If you own a ship yard you can design new ships. (Computer controlled factions will build ships according to templates. They will play with the parameters and test these ships in simulations). You will be able to produce or sell the blueprints for these designs to other factions.
Research laboratories – you can make blueprints and produce different items. You can then sell these items in your shops, or sell the blueprints to other factions.
Mines – you can harvest different minerals for crafting or trading. To harvest from mines of higher grade you will need to have a higher tier mining laser/gear.
Asteroid fields – you can mine from asteroids, getting different minerals and items. There will be different types of asteroids, some of them dangerous for mining (like exploding ones), while others will be guarded by ships of other factions.
Starports – you will be able to acquire missions in starports. There will be missions that advance your main plot line, and side quests, that are meant to get you acquainted with game mechanics, specific areas, improve your gear, or just make some cash.