On this note about Life Support, I'd like to suggest the following:
1) New LS tech DOESN'T increase any ship range. It merely gives access to new ship components, which are what determine range.
2) LS components should start out LARGE (in terms of space), but cheap. Improvements should reduce the first slowly, but increase the second quickly. E.g. "Basic" LS should be size 10, cost 5. Reduce size by 2 per new tech, but double the cost.
3) Range should NOT be adjusted by map size. It should be scaled for a Small Map, then left fixed. One of the things that *should* be a challenge on larger/huge/etc. maps is that you MUST load up your ships with life support to enable them to cross the vast distances.
I did something similar in my GalCiv 2 mod:
1. The standard LS techs don't increase range.
2. Nobody starts with basic LS components.
3. The Hyperion Re-Supply Center is gone. However, the Yor have access to a more powerful GA version of it.
4. The Yor LS techs don't unlock new components, but grant a big boost to ship range instead.
5. The size of the LS components is fixed, and slightly bigger than originally (base size is 4 now, instead of 2). Each new version is slightly more expensive (+1) and increases the range only a little (2 tiles more).
6. All LS techs can neither be traded nor stolen.
The net effect is, that expanding early game is a bit more difficult, because you can't just add LS modules to your ships to increase their range. Once you have researched your first LS tech, you can add the modules to your ships, but they take up more space than before. The Yor, on the other hand, don't have to worry about this, because their range increases automatically once they've researched their LS tech. However, they need to expand, either via new colonies or new starbases, in order to expand further, because they don't have access to LS modules.
Overall, I really like the change in gameplay this provides. Even the AI manages to deal with it quite well. For the most part at least. The only bad thing is, that the range-adjustment based on map size is hardcoded. Else, I would have removed that.
One of the Life Support tech descriptions states that it is a software upgrade of the existing hardware that makes the ships travel further
Which one? I've been dealing with those techs a lot, reading their descriptions countless times over the years, and I don't remember any of them saying something to this effect.