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Tips on playing a starship based campaign

I recently bought the T20 Traveller's Handbook and am planning on running a campaign during times when our regular D&D group can't get everyone together. I am looking to run a merchant/ pirate campaign where the players run a ship and its crew rather than a single character. The only other version of Traveller I have experience with is the GDW 2300 version.

Since I am not going to be utilising characters as the primary participants I'd like some advice on what sevtions of the rulebook I really need to cover. I figured the combat, design and travelling sections but is there other areas I should spend some time going over?

I would like to boil down the system to one where we can basically have a game or trade, navigation, company empire building, ship to ship combat, etc. All the players will start with the same amount of cash and the overall goal will be to build the best trade/piracy outift. I plan on utilizing alot of custom made random tables to generate encounters, events and so on that a referee is not essential and the role can be passed around to whoever is not actively running ship missions.

For anyone who has played Rail Baron, something along those lines, except with a zoom in to do ship to ship combat when needed. I've been playing RPGs and wargames since 1983 am confortable modifying systems and doing alot of outsde work to put together a system. My other players are experienced at playing complex boardgames but are familiar with D20 D&D rules so I figure this T20 system would be the easiest for them learn.

thanks in advance.
Are you going to be using an existing sector to set this in, or will it be completely homemade?

If the latter then have a good read through the system/world generation section.
Not sure about that, probably homemade. I'll know more once I read some more of the rule book and decide on how the trade system works. I've scanned the book but have yet to really do any significant reading. I'd like to get this going as soon as possible so I want to only read the required info and save the other stuff for later flavor reading.

I downloaded "Heaven & Earth" and the starship design excel spread sheet to give me some tools. I use my laptop and Campaign Cartographer(no cosmographer yet) at the table. I plan on making a modular hex tile mapboard similiar to "Settlers of Catan" for the micro level movement and combat. Probably will use the laptop or a printed sector map for macro level movement.