I played the game back in alpha and loved it and managed to get a few friends into to who also enjoyed the game, but now that I'm coming back to Atlas Reactor in beta and trying out all the new changes, there is one thing that I can't seem to find any info on.

Can free-mode players ever unlock freelancers permanently?

Back in alpha you could unlock freelancers one at a time like in any F2P game. This appears to have changed (unless I missed something, which god I hope I did). If free-mode players can no longer unlock freelancers permanently and have to rely on whatever the weekly free rotation is, I'm afraid that's a massive deal breaker for me and my friends. Atlas Reactor is obviously a game that fits the F2P model, so I think it's absolutely ridiculous that the two options available that I can find right now are "you are stuck as a slave to free week rotation and can never unlock anyone" and "pay once to unlock everyone forever". Two extreme ends of the spectrum with no middle ground.

Could someone please tell me if these are the only two options, or if there is currently a way that I missed to unlock more freelancers as a free-mode player. It would also be fine if the ability to unlock freelancers one at a time is only temporarily disabled and will be added back in later.