VG247 point out this fan Q&A in which Cryptic studios executive producer Craig “Zinc” Zinkievich affirmed that players in Star Trek Online would be expected to explore space, and not just grind missions for Starfleet.
“So we don’t view exploration as a ‘break’ from other gameplay – it’s integral. Expect to be encouraged to boldly go! And as an incentive to explore space, discovering new civilizations is one of the major ways to open up new resources and equipment and make new alien recruits available to you, your fleet and your faction.”
That sounds pretty positive to me - although I wonder how quickly gamers will explore up the galaxy if it's pre-made. ("We can't land here, it's a level 36 planet!")