A common trope in pop SF. But can they be realistic in a hard SF, no FTL, no hide in space? I have collected a few counterarguments (C:), and my justifications (A:) to overcome them, but i'd like to see other opinions as well, whether my answers has great flaws or not, maybe advices, good books etc. (My inspirators were Star Wars, Firefly Serenity, Rise of Leviathan) C: - Due to limited delta-V and different courses, you cant just board a spaceship. A: - They dont have to. They simply demand ransom for not destroying it. C: - They cant stop a laser signal in space, the attacked ship will alert everyone, the telescopes will surely track the pirate ship. A: - But if they attack the ship of party X, they can be sheltered by a colony belongs to someone hostile or neutral to party X. C: - Still constant tracking... they simply cant hide. A: - But if there are regular warfare in the asteroid belt, then tracking them is a third rate problem. Since propulsion system requires regular maintenance, the ships radiation signs will also change. Pirates can do dirty jobs for different opposing forces, so they arent interested in demanding that ships have to send unique transponder signals. After visiting X docks, the pirate ship cant be picked out from a number of small, private, manned cargo vessel.