I know this has been talked about in the past, and i really should have thought to bring it up again sooner, as the new expansion is probably already set in stone by this point. BUT, i would LOVE to see a "laboratory" module introduced as a ship component. Im tired of ships only being good for war! The only other use for ships right now is as surveyors. and you can only have so many of them. What i propose is this:
1. A module that would produce a set amount of research points every turn, but cost extra maintenance per turn. These extra RP would be added into your total each turn and would NOT depend upon how much your slider was set to research (since your already paying for it in maintenance).
2. A series of techs that branch off of stellar cartography. Each tech granting the next level of laboratory.
3. The balance of RP/cost should reflect the idea that Land bases facilities are more efficient and should be the back bone of your RP out put, but if your short on real estate you should still have a way to keep up with the big boys if your willing to commit the cast in maintenance every turn.
4. The size of the Laboratories should take up enough space that the largest hulled ship in that tech era should be able to have both a lab and limited weapons/deff. Thus adding to your military might (as the Federation does in Star Trek). That way depending on your strategy you can have both Purely Science Vessels that have say 3 labs or general purpose with say 1 and average armorment.
This is a great excuse for peaceful civs to have a large standing army during peace time. especially if they are a smaller race that needs their real estate for large banking systems.
Also i did investigate doing this as a mod a while back. I was thinking, modify the survey module to give bonus RP each turn. But every one told me you can only manipulate current bonuses, you cant tell it to give something such as RP. If this is not true, please tell me how it might be possible to mod this in cause i would gladly try, if not. DEVS PLEASE make a way for me to mod this in, if its not going to make it into any future patches or expansions! this would really make for an interesting change in strategy with regards to research and useless standing armies.
PS it would also be nice if when war time came around, it was relatively cheep to "upgrade" them getting rid of the labs for more guns and shields. But when the war was over, make it extremely expensive to transfer back, basically you gotta build new ships.