Carrier upkeep is not that bad, only about few mining trips a year.
This was never a problem. My 74ly Anaconda can repair itself infinite. Except completely broken cockpit.… because I can't put the 5 billion Credits together. This might take a few years.
As an explorer, you can now find a carrier, have your ship repaired and eventually sell some data. In the black, the fleet carriers tend to be in interesting places. If you go for a repair, very likely, you'll also have something to visit there.
Not really. Never had broken yet, but you can recharge life support on the go. There is video on yourtube guy went from bubble to colonia having broken cockpit intentionally on small ship.I suspect you are not going to reach a station in the black within 3-25 mins!!! Broken cockpit in the black must mean "mission end, start again" ?