HomeLAN have posted part 3 of the backstory for Homeplanet, which takes a look at the fiction behind the game:
The next important remark is that you need to remember about the inertial of the flight! For example, when the ship turns, it will move in the same direction for some time, and you'll need a lot of time to stop the ship. The other example is, if the ship launches a missile, not only its mass will decrease (minus mass of the missile), but it will also receive an impulse that should be compensated by the engines. And, the starting speed of a missile sums up with the speed of the ship, so don't even try to catch up with it - it will be quite problematic, really.
But, the main thing is that your pot can fly in two modes. First one is cruiser mode - which you probably know well. This is the mode where all "extra" ship movements are being compensated by the engine, so the pilot can make the ship move in the right direction without any special efforts. The speed of compensation depends on the ship, its mass, parameters of the engines, etc. In common, the ship moves over its long axis - "we fly where we look".