So, this is of some concern to me and I figured I'd see how many other people agree with my overview here.
I have tried to play episode content many times, and while they are laid out better over all (good mix of ground and space combat) and are more fun (story for each is definitely higher quality then anything in exploration content) I find my self being drawn back to the boring cluster missions every time.
Cluster missions ARE boring. It's either ground, OR space when you enter the instance (no clever mix of the two) and more often then I care to admit I find myself doing the exact same mission I just did. Again. For the third/fourth time in a row!
If cluster missions had some minor similarities to episodes, life would be more fun in the exploration content. Nothing HUGE, more variety (which I know is coming, keep up the good work Cryptic) and both a bit of space combat mixed in with the ground missions and a bit of ground combat mixed in with the space missions would go a long way towards breaking up the monotony and making the missions more fun to play (or replay in most cases) as I usually get stuck with 4 or 5 missions of space or ground combat before I finally get a break and reach the other type of combat...followed by 3-7 of those before reverting to the other. It's kind of frustrating actually.
Likewise, while the episode missions are more fun, I find I can gear up better with exploration missions (often fully equipping my ship and ground crew by the time I've reached the next rank). EITHER gear rewards for EPISODES should be buffed a bit OR (and more likely) gear rewards for EXPLORATION should be nerfed to be on par with gearing up through missions, Most likely through increasing the badge prices some at vendors, though this is just my opinion on the matter.