Elite Newsletter 117 gives us a peak at new planetary bases
The image featured in this post comes from the latest Elite newsletter and features a concept art of a ship approaching an engineer's base. As stated players will be able to land at these bases to offer commodities, data and materials in exchange for unique ship modules.
Now, we also know that there will be a limited number of engineers available to players scattered through inhabitated space, and that the benefits they offer will come at a price. Not just necessarily paying up in credits, but also in some sort of reputation since these engineers will have specific standings with players and will offer different feedback and missions depending on that standing.
Will this require more grind? Well, most probably yes but we'll have to wait to see what way will the next patch get implemented in. There are parts of the game that are already grindy and require people to fill up the bars to make some kind of progress so I really don't think it would be a good idea to block content like this behind another bar grind.
Some advance features will surely need to be worked for, but hopefully basic engineering services will be available to all pilots from the start.