Loving it, really loving it.
If you add some randomness/flavor:
* there are npc's that hate you for no apparent reason, which will not change
* there are those that fall in love with you and they will do everything for free (player would be limited to one (I guess?), and should be a rare find, and you should make sure she/he has a good ship and guns to keep her/himself alive, and obviously they would turn to hate you or just stop loving you (again, personality/random) if you try to send them on a suicide mission)
* when you save an NPC ship about to be blown they add YOU to their contact list, and tell you something like 'if you ever need a favour... thanks for saving my life' (again, should be rare, most NPC's should thank you, but not offer this favour)
* contacts should potentially grow cold over time: in some cases, the people forget, or stop to care, while in other cases (you saving their life, they having strong feelings, you working together for multiple jobs) they will always remember
* Since the universe is dangerous freelancers should die every so often, and you should get an obituary message, traders die too, etc. Others like station managers should be pretty much safe (unless that station gets blown up...) well, you get the point: the more useful on the edge of policed space, the more rare an npc friend who stays alive (without additional help from the player)
It would be the best singleplayer experience in this regard ever
Oh bonus: as a pirate, make it possible to bribe a police officer and keep him in your black book for future smuggling... and make it possible to extort npc traders for cargo, a reward for 'protecting' them, and maybe even make it possible to find dirty info (they break the law or cheat or w/e) to use to blackmail officials/anyone who cares.
EDIT: just thought of another thing:
It would be again extremely cool and immersive if you'd occasionally get a message (maybe once every 90 minutes on average) from your contacts, not just with jobs (with some losing interest in you if you don't do them and others not minding one bit as it was just a chance they took in asking you, just as in real life) but also definitely random chatter:
"hey dude, I found a new mining zone, how has your day been?"
"So you're still alive then? Impressive... you still so lucky as when I rescued you or decided to take less chances?"
"FML, my girlfriend is cheating on me and the guy she's with just bought up my company and fired me. Got anything for me?"
"Hey have you heard the new song by A.Y.A. yet friend? I find it the best during my long trading runs."
Please consider, I know it might be a lot of work to get things like this right ^^