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A satellite the size of a loaf of bread has been launched by NASA as part of a series of wireless sensor experiments.

The Technology Educational Satellite, known as TechEdSat-6, was launched to the International Space Station on Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft and released into low-Earth orbit earlier this month to conduct a series of self-powered tests.

TechEdSat-6’s experiments will seek to expand the capabilities of wireless sensor networks for re-entry or ascent systems.

Carrying an updated version of the Exo-Brake parachute technology - an exo-atmospheric braking device - TechEdSat-6 will demonstrate controlled re-entry of small craft to return experiments safely from space, NASA has said.

“The Exo-Brake’s shape can be changed to vary the drag on the satellite,” commented Michelle Munk, NASA’s system capability lead for entry, descent and landing.

“With the help of high-fidelity simulations, we will demonstrate a low-cost, propellant-less method of returning small payloads quickly, and to fairly precise locations, for retrieval.”

The goal of the experiment is to return samples from space but also to develop the building blocks necessary for larger-scale systems that may enable small spacecraft to reach the surface of planets like Mars in the future.

TechEdSat-6 is the fourth satellite to carry an updated version of the Exo-Brake - a project funded by the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Game Changing Development programme, NASA’s Ames Research Center and the Engineering and Safety Center.

The TechEdSat series is a collaborative endeavour between NASA employees and several universities, combining elements of science, technology, engineering and maths.

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The Bloodhound Supersonic car has undergone its first test runs this month. The vehicle has been made with the help of Rolls-Royce, which has supplied the engine for the car, sourcing this particular piece of kit from a Eurofighter Typhoon.

According to the Derby Telegraph, the engineering team on the Bloodhound project have been using the firm’s testing facilities ahead of getting the car on a runway.

The civil aerospace division at Sinfin has been used to test the wheels, for instance. But this week the vehicle made its first test runs in Newquay.

It reached a speed of 210mph on the runway at Newquay Airport on 26 October, the BBC reported, with the team now confident that it can reach its designed performance - speeds of up to 1,000mph.

Pilot RAF Wing Commander Andy Green, who is tasked with driving the super-high-speed vehicle, told the news provider that the test runs were hard work for the car’s brakes.

He said the front brakes were “smoking furiously” following the second run, commenting: “They started to just flicker with flame - very sort of Formula One, but in a proper high-speed car. And that was exactly what we were hoping for.”

Next year the Bloodhound and its team will head to South Africa, where 12 miles of a dried out lake bed will allow the car to reach much greater speeds. The current world land speed record stands at 763mph, although with the introduction of rocket technology in 2019, the aim is to get the Bloodhound to the 800mph barrier initially, and then the 1,000mph barrier a year later.

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