This is one of the games you can refer to as a hidden gem, largely ignored but actually quite incredible, which is a terrible shame. Metacritics and the score is mainly bashed down due to the learning curve and massive technical aspects.
Mission briefings give you fully explorable solar systems, with impressive lighting looking akin to something from KSP.
Ship explosions look really good, there's no magically disappearing models, and they even launch escape pods.
The ships can be disabled as well and proceed to drift in space (but can still be destroyed)
Ship systems are fully modular, which is a crucial aspect of the game campaign, these systems can be targeted and disabled as well. (shoot all engines and the ship stops).
Ship movement looks far more real and is far, far less arcade like than the vast majority of mass produced space RTS you find today, they even have small directional engines on board that are fired when the ships turn.
The learning curve is indeed very steep, but if you can overcome the vast technical aspects the game offers you'll find yourself a space combat RTS which is Homeworld tier good, it really is worth a try, and this is a game from 2004.