Published: Sept. 2, 2020 By

An illustration of the Dark Ages Polarimeter Pathfinder, or Dapper, spacecraft orbiting past the far side of the moon.From Business Insider: The moon is both seductively close to Earth and cosmically far away: Decades after the end of the space race, it remains extraordinarily expensive and difficult to actually get there.

The journey just got a bit easier, however, thanks to a freshly published NASA invention. The agency's patent doesn't cover a new piece of equipment or lines of code, but a trajectory — a route designed to save a lunar-bound mission time, fuel, and money and boost its scientific value.

On June 30, the US Patent and Trademark Office granted and published NASA's patent for a series of orbital maneuvers, which Business Insider first learned about via a tweet by a lawyer named Jeff Steck.

The technique isn't meant for large spaceships that carry astronauts or rovers, but for smaller, more tightly budgeted missions tasked with doing meaningful science. And the first spacecraft to take advantage of this new orbital path could deliver unprecedented discoveries from the far side of the moon. Read more...