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Transportation Technology

The Ephemerality and Reality of the Jetpack 127

Posted by samzenpus
from the up-up-and-away dept.
First time accepted submitter Recaply writes "Here's a look back at the 1960's Bell Aerosystems Rocket Belt. 'Born out of sci-fi cinema, pulp literature and a general lust for launching ourselves into the wild blue yonder, the real-world Rocket Belt began to truly unfold once the military industrial complex opened up its wallet. In the late 1950s, the US Army's Transportation Research Command (TRECOM) was looking at ways to augment the mobility of foot soldiers and enable them to bypass minefields and other obstacles on the battleground by making long-range jumps. It put out a call to various aerospace companies looking for prototypes of a Small Rocket Lift Device (SRLD). Bell Aerospace, which had built the sound-barrier-breaking X-1 aircraft for the Army Air Forces, managed to get the contract and Wendell Moore, a propulsion engineer at Bell became the technical lead.'"
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The Ephemerality and Reality of the Jetpack

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  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @08:04PM (#46384401) Homepage

    A big problem with jetpacks is that human ankles are weak landing gear. You can't do a parachute landing fall while wearing a jetpack; you have to do a standing landing. With all the mass of the gear on your back.

    The other big problem is that rocket systems have a short flight time, and jet engine systems are too expensive. The jet engine powered backpack [youtube.com] worked well, but cost too much. That used a small Williams jet engine. Williams International has tried and tried to make small jet engines cheaper. So have many others. Unfortunately, that's a very hard problem, which is why general aviation is still piston-powered. Below small-bizjet size, jet engines don't seem to get much cheaper as they get smaller. There was a big effort about a decade ago to develop "very light jets", but they ended up costing well over $1 million, most of that being engine cost.

    So it can be done, and it has been done, but it just doesn't work very well.

  • Williams WASP X-Jet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OzPeter (195038) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @08:08PM (#46384423)

    This is the reality of how to make a single man fly.

    Williams WASP X-Jet [youtube.com]

    It worked, it flew, there was no military justification for it, it disappeared.

  • Re:Almost as if (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phrostie (121428) on Sunday March 02, 2014 @08:32PM (#46384543)

    but no one mentions the Martin http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

In any formula, constants (especially those obtained from handbooks) are to be treated as variables.

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