Nine rounds doesn't mean nine actions. You get multiple actions (build, research, move, etc) in each round, although they get progressively more expensive. At the end of the round, you collect income and replenish your colony ships. By the end of the game, you'll have had plenty of opportunities for exploration and combat. You won't take over the whole map, though. That's not the point - it's a boardgame, so it's good that it ends before one player dominates. Why would the other players stick around otherwise?