Some great questions there! I'll tackle them in order.
1) Not explicitly, but we've just discussed it, and you can do it using the existing mechanics. Other ships can't easily see what types of weapons your ship has (and vice versa), so you can totally stock up and be more of a menace than pirates expect. Couple this with flicking on your IFF signal to make sure you're good and loud and have people's attention, and that may do the trick. So like I say, it's not an explicit strategy in the game, but you could do something like it.
2) We do want some market flexibility, but it's a big task to get that happening dynamically. Explicit in-game narrative events will cause things to happen on a large scale, but it won't be AI-driven.
3) So you don't own space stations in Objects in Space. You're a lowly ship captain and nothing more. You will be able to increase your reputation with certain factions and reap the rewards, and can plummet your rep with key mistakes, but not on the grand scale of destroying space stations. One of the things we wanted to do in this game was keep the player small. Your role in this vast universe is a modest one, so you won't be destroying space stations and that sort of thing.
4) A VASIMR drive is a variable-specific impulse magnetoplasma rocket. It ionised a propellant to create thrust based on very little energy. Ours is a fictionalised version of that. Speed and distance in the game aren't realistic - they're designed for gameplay first. Star systems are very condensed so players can get around without TOO much down time. We wanted to have that vastness of space feeling, but not necessarily to scale. An average ship speed is about 1.2Gm/s (gigametres per second), but that doesn't really match the actual size of star systems, so I'll instead say that to get from one side of a star system to another takes several in-game hours and in real-time about 5-10 minutes. You can use a jump drive, but this is to warp between star systems, not to other locations inside the current one. You can get from one side of the Apollo cluster to the other with an average of about four jumps (depending on how much cash you spent on your jump drive of course), and that should take you about half an in-game day or 20-30 minutes of real-time.
5) You've hit the nail on the head, but probes have a secondary function. They not only act as mobile sensors to increase your firing solution, but can also be sent to planets and moons to scan them and send back data, which can be mission-specific tasks or can be done for small amounts of net-gain when working for science factions. The reason we haven't shown these publicly yet it because we only just implemented them last week.
EDIT Question) Yes, there are several strategies we've created intentionally and uncovered through playing. I can tell you all of them here, but it might be fun for you to find them out yourself, so consider this a spoiler warning of sorts.
That said, here are the ways we've been able to avoid a torpedo:
1) Drop a countermeasure - these have a percentage change of attracting the torpedo
2) Activate your Point-Defence Laser system (very similar to a PDC/CIWS as you suggest), which chews up a LOT of power but is an effective short-range rapid-fire cannon which can be a great thing to do as a last resort.
3) Shoot it - you can target incoming torpedoes with a torpedo of your own. It's not easy to hit so fast a moving target, but it can be done.
4) Outrun it - if an AI jumps the gun and shoots early, it's possible to put enough distance between you and the torpedo that it runs out of power before it gets to you.
5) Fancy flying - nigh on impossible, but you can continue to do evasive turns until it runs out of juice. Problem here is that a torpedo detonating NEAR you will still damage your ship, albeit not as severely as if it actually hits you.
6) Fly into an asteroid belt or deadly nebula - "They'd be crazy to follow us, wouldn't they?"
7) Position yourself so that you're on the opposite side of a star from an incoming torpedo (melt the thing).
8) Hail a nearby military ship for assistance (although if a torpedo has been fired, that may be a little late)
9) Spin up your jump drive and get the hell out of there (takes some time and chews up a lot of power, so you better be confident you'll get away in time)
10) Spin up your jump drive and then discharge it without jumping (causes an EMP burst to fire out from your ship
11) Close the gap before the torpedo arms (Connery's accent aside, Hunt for Red October was a great film).
What you CAN'T do is go into EmCon mode or hide in a nebula - once a torpedo is incoming, you're already spotted and it's time for action - the time for stealth has passed.