Experience teaches us that posting an opening bracket after one episode is imprudent, but I cannot help it. The opener was simply that great.
Certainly, I am fully cognizant of the episode being an intentional teaser. Even such a small detail as a promise of hot carrier action in OP was inserted with that purpose. Nonetheless, it all fit just right: the correct balance of exposition, suspense, action, romance, characterization, and everything else a modern show ought to provide — all of it was there. And whom am I kidding, bridge bunnies and the chest parade unseen since Stellvia's hangar scene.
Speaking of falling back on the motorized wheelchair of comparisons, Starship Operators 01 was like taking dynamism and lightning-fast exposition of Vandread, the intricacy and grittiness of Banner of the Stars, and the space opera tradition with the reluctant hero of Nadesico, then melting them carefuly so as to not make it eclectic.
My biggest concern at this point is the knowledge about Zero no Tsukaima. There, too, J.C.Staff painstakenly collected everything that giants on the shoulders of whom they stood had to offer and used the lessons of the past to create an ultimate harem comedy to eclipse them all... for about six episodes. We all know how that ended: the infamy of milking and so on. I know that Starship Operators had no sequel, but I don't know if that was pre-planned or caused by unravelling.
A smaller concern is the excess of characters.
P.S. What is the meaning of the flaming duck in the OP? So intriguing!