NASA

Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson not yet astronauts, US says

New Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules say astronaut hopefuls must be part of the flight crew and make contributions to space flight safety.

That means Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson may not yet be astronauts in the eyes of the US government.

These are the first changes since the FAA wings programme began in 2004.

The Commercial Astronaut Wings programme updates were announced on Tuesday - the same day that Amazon's Bezos flew aboard a Blue Origin rocket to the edge of space.

Nasa successfully flies small helicopter on Mars

The drone, called Ingenuity, was airborne for less than a minute, but Nasa is celebrating what represents the first powered, controlled flight by an aircraft on another world.

Confirmation came via a satellite at Mars which relayed the chopper's data back to Earth.

The space agency is promising more adventurous flights in the days ahead.

Ingenuity will be commanded to fly higher and further as engineers seek to test the limits of the technology.

Nasa's Perseverance rover lands on Mars

The American space agency has successfully landed its Perseverance rover in a deep crater near the planet's equator called Jezero.

Engineers at Nasa's mission control in California erupted with joy when confirmation of touchdown came through.

The six-wheeled vehicle will now spend at least the next two years drilling into the local rocks, looking for evidence of past life.

Jezero is thought to have held a giant lake billions of years ago. And where there's been water, there's the possibility there might also have been life.

Astronauts on historic mission enter space station

Their Dragon capsule - supplied and operated by the private SpaceX company - attached to the bow section of the orbiting lab 422km above China.

After a wait for leak, pressure and temperature checks, the pair disembarked to join the Russian and American crew already on the ISS.

Hurley and Behnken launched from Florida on Saturday.

Theirs is the first crew outing launched from American soil since the retirement of the US space agency (Nasa) shuttles nine years ago.

Nasa astronauts begin historic mission on private spaceship

It's the first time since the retirement of the shuttles nine years ago that an American crew has made the journey from US territory.

Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are not only trialling a new capsule system, they are also initiating a new business model for Nasa.

The agency will no longer own the vehicles it uses but merely purchase the "taxi" service offered by SpaceX.

It's hoped companies other than tech billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX outfit will come in to expand the market. The aerospace giant Boeing already has a contract with Nasa to do so.

Tom Cruise keen to film in space

Nasa is working with Cruise to film aboard the International Space Station.

There are no details of the film, but Deadline - which first reported the story - said it would not be a new instalment of Mission: Impossible.

The report also said Cruise, 57, is also working with Elon Musk's SpaceX, which will transport two US astronauts to the ISS for Nasa later this month.

Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote on Twitter: "Nasa is excited to work with Tom Cruise on a film aboard the Space Station!"

Musk replied to say the project "should be a lot of fun!"

'Snowman' shape of distant Ultima Thule revealed

A new picture returned from Nasa's New Horizons spacecraft shows the little world to be two objects joined together - to give a look like a "snowman".

The US probe's images acquired as it approached Ultima hinted at the possibility of a double body, but the first detailed picture from Tuesday's close flyby confirms it.

New Horizons encountered Ultima 6.5 billion km from Earth.

The event set a record for the most distant ever exploration of a Solar System object. The previous mark was also set by New Horizons when it flew past the dwarf planet Pluto in 2015.

Extra-terrestrial life more likely after NASA discovery about Saturn's moon Enceladus

The probe has detected traces of molecular hydrogen (H2) in icy plumes spewing from fissures on the surface of Enceladus.

The discovery, reported today in the journal Science, indicates the Saturnian moon's oceans contain conditions critical to fuelling life.

Study co-author Hunter Waite, the program director of mass spectrometry studies at the South West Research Institute, said the implications of finding hydrogen were "pretty amazing".

'Hidden Figures' explores unsung heroes of space race

So despite an overly calculated feel, the numbers add up in favor of this uplifting film, which celebrates America's pioneer spirit during the space race while delving into that era's shameful aspects vis-à-vis race and gender.

"Hidden Figures" is periodically guilty of a sort of thudding earnestness, as well as emotional manipulation. Still, with its top-flight cast and absorbing historical foundation, the movie doesn't just chronicle when America began reaching for the stars, but sporadically achieves cinematic liftoff.

This NASA astronaut voted from space

Shane Kimbrough, a NASA astronaut currently living on board the International Space Station, filed his ballot in last week's presidential election, according to a Tumblr post by NASA.

NASA told Yahoo News that Kimbrough filed his ballot in the 2016 election from the space station sometime over the past few days.