The new space missions are a good source of black hole and fleet commendations. As such, they could have a fair effect on advancement (through BH Gear) and the Economy (through Grade 7 Boxes).
My understanding from Dulfy's post was that it's 30 minutes of space missions for:
- 12 Black Hole Commendations
- 30 Daily Commendations
- 240 Fleet Commendations
The old ones, assuming you did just the last two (since they had the best rate of return), was 18 minutes for:
- 0 Black Hole Commendations
- 2 Daily Commendations
- 40 Fleet Commendations
(If you spent the whole 73 Mintues doing all space missions you'd get 100 Comms but I never bothered doing all of them, given the Comms you get for the time you put in)
The rate of return for the time you put in is much higher for the new missions, which would explain why people didn't care about space before, but may well care about them now.