These days most of my hobby time is devoted to painting miniatures for my various Pathfinder games.
I have been interested in playing a space combat game for a while.
I tried Star Wars Starship battles when it came out but, in the end, found it to be too simplistic.
I have purchased and played the quite excellent Battleship Galaxies when it came out. It is a really nice game with some unique resource management challenges built in as part of the game play. My only real gripe is the set up time involved and the somewhat limited play area (even though two game boards are included). I never felt like I got a real chance to outmaneuver my opponent.
I received some Firestorm Armada ships for Christmas and they are very beautiful ships. Unfortunately I am not interested in purchasing another rule set or learning it. Especially one that requires cards, tokens, and dice.
So, I hit the interwebz hard and found several free rule sets that seemed to fit what I was looking for. Of all the choices available, the most popular seems to be Full Thrust.
Full Thrust was originally published in 1991 or thereabouts. A second edition was released circa 1995. Jon Tuffley wrote these rules. Jon is well know for running Ground Zero Games and authoring several rule sets such as Stargrunt 2 and Dirtside 2. Don't be thrown by the age of these rules! They have stood the test of time and survived.
Full Thrust is non-setting specific. So, you can play practically any background you can come up with. Conversions can be found throughout the Internet covering setting specific ships and fleets for old favorites such as Star Trek, Star Wars, Starblazers, BSG, BFG, and Babylon 5.
There are many Full Thrust resources out there;