For a death penalty why not make a percentage decrease of your damage, power, hull points or shields either all or some of them anyway lasting 20mins - half an hour, decreasing each time you die to a cap. That works.
Crafting, just YES.
Making leveling take longer, definatlly, a game should in no way be totally aimed at getting to the top level and repeating the same content over and over.
Beleave it or not there is Hardcore crafter's Yes there is someone who will put in 70 hr's of there 80 hr's play into crafting. Then there is Housing no houseing is another MMO part that u have alot of plaiers staing around to make there home look 100 time's better then anyone else's and Of corse I'm a Carebear when it come's to losing ship's but with there not being a 100 hr's to making a ship losing would only mean money and item so not bad as if I speant 6 month's to make a ship and lose it.
I believe you're trying to say something about people who have no life whatsover spending 80 hours a week crafting in some other games. I say let them continue doing just that in their other games.