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Inner Planets Cup

The Inner Planets Cup or simply IPC for short is the most important racing event in all of Sol. Teams of five cosmonauts in purpose built race from Earth to Mars on a yearly changing route.   The IPC is mostly a competition of navigators. The crews have to plot their maneuvers manually, without the electronic helpers usually used in space travel. To keep the competitors from simply preparing a flight plan in advance, the race includes a series of check points, which need to be completed before arriving at the finish. These are a series of orbits, which need to be achieved. For example, the 2164 edition required a Mercury flyby and rendezvous with a target buoy in high Venus orbit. These checkpoints are announced only at the start of the race, leaving the teams to figure out their exact route on the fly.   Racers use spacecraft specially built for each years cup. They only provide the bare essencials for crew comfort, and are instead optimized for performance. The ships need to adhere to a set of rules, restricting the technology that can be used as well as characteristics such as size and mass. This ensures an even playingfield, but also challenges the engineers of the racing teams to achieve maximum performance (which mostly means maximum delta V) within these constraints. After each IPC, a jury chooses a constructor's champion, based on the technical performance of the vessels. The rules for construction change yearly, as the winning team of the previous cup gets a big say in which style of vehicle should be used in the next competition.

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Cover image: by nearlyoctagonal


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