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Hull Design

What do the USP codes for each type ship hull mean? How are they used?

Is there any logical reason why a ship that had no intention of ever entering space, but wanted semi-streamlining wouldn't be a sphere? It seems to me that, with the exception of the USP codes, the Spheres only difference is that they are cheaper.

As far as I can figure, the USP codes are well...just there. Don't seem to do much.
Configuration used to be a defensive bonus against meson guns (needle/wedge configuration being best). But that doesn't seem to be a factor anymore.

Under the T20 rules, Close Structure is clearly preferred for partially streamlined ships; it's the cheapest configuration available other than the totally unstreamlined Dispersed Structure and the planetoids. For streamlined ships, Flattened Spheres are the cheapest solution and should be fairly common.