Up, up and down: the ephemerality and reality of the jetpack
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.
The most viable design at Bell’s Buffalo, NY, facility was a hydrogen peroxide rocket-propulsion system, which offered a relatively stable fuel with no combustion. It was dubbed the Rocket Belt and was essentially a three-tank system mounted onto a fiberglass corset molded to fit the operator.
Full article on Engadget.