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Transportation Technology

The Ephemerality and Reality of the Jetpack 127

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 joe_frisch ( 1366229 ) on Monday March 03, 2014 @12:27AM (#46385527)

    We don't see jetpacks or flying cars for the very same physics reason. In order to hover against gravity you need to produce thrust > weight. Since thrust is proportional to (mass/second) X velocity, and power is proportional to (mass/second) X velocity^2, an efficient source of thrust you want to move a lot of material slowly (assuming you have unlimited reaction mass -> the atmosphere).

    So, things that hover need to move lots of air, and have great big propellers. That is why helicopters work, and jet-reaction cars are too inefficient to be practical. It is why airplanes have big wings, not stubby lifting bodies. There may be a few spacial cases where you are willing to tolerate inefficiency, but they are rare.

    Planes look like planes for a reason. Helicopters look like helicopters for a reason.

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