Sunday Science: Dude, where’s my jetpack?

Jetpacks.  A long time staple of science fiction, and the true hallmark of the world of tomorrow.

jetpack
Never be late for work again!

In the 50’s, everyone thought that the future would be full of the things.  Well, here we are in the 21at century and all I got is a Kia.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, but dang, we can make celebrities out of Kim Kardashians and Justin Bliebers, but not be able to fly around free as birds?

Or can we?
Let’s take a look at the history of this crazy idea.
I think you will find it’s even older than you thought!

Leave to the Russians to come up with the idea of strapping rocket fuel to your back and lighting it off.  Inventor Aleksandr Fyodorovich Andreyev came up with the idea back in 1919.  Technologists of the time loved the concept, and a patent was issued, but it seems common sense prevailed as no prototypes were developed.

In 1958, Garry Burdett and Alexander Bohr supposedly developed a jump belt that used compressed gas to propel the wearer up to 7 meters in the air, but it seems no one was interested and financing never developed.

Cutting to the chase, in 1965 (a great year for innovative creations!) Bell Aerosystems began developing the Jet Belt.  The first test came in 1969, when a pilot flew about 100 meters in a circle, about 7 meters off the ground.  While the system worked, it was deemed too complicated and dangerous (it operated below minimum safe parachute distance and was very heavy!)

The Bell Rocket Belt is probably the most famous of the jetpacks.

Lost in space jetpack
Gotta find Penny and that stupid Bloop!

It was used in the James Bond film Thunderball, as well as on episodes of Lost in Space and the 70’s tv show Ark II.
A really cool device, it could only fly a little over 30 seconds.

So, it looks like we are still a ways off from being able to jetpack ourselves to work and avoid rush hour traffic.  Then again, if people can barely handle cars, do I really want to be flying around with them too?

Texting and jetpacking?

Nancy Atkinson over at UniverseToday.com has an article that shows us the jetpack technology of today.  Go learn something!  It will only hurt a little bit…

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