×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Rocket Men

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the excellent-reason-to-go-into-traction dept.

150

theodp writes "Slate reports on the guys who really, really want to fly, who got together the other week at the Niagara Aerospace Museum for the First International Rocketbelt Convention. To date, only 11 men in history have free-flown a rocketbelt (aka JetPack). More men have walked on the moon. Why? 'It's not a matter of if you get hurt, it's when,' says Eric Scott, an ex-stuntman who's in the exclusive club."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

150 comments

1997 called (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16358929)

1887 called and wants his web site back!

the guidence system runs Linux (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16358931)

Linux needs to get its act together

Linux is *not* user friendly, and until it is linux will stay with >1% marketshare.

Take installation. Linux zealots are now saying "oh installing is so easy, just do apt-get install package or emerge package": Yes, because typing in "apt-get" or "emerge" makes so much more sense to new users than double-clicking an icon that says "setup".

Linux zealots are far too forgiving when judging the difficultly of Linux configuration issues and far too harsh when judging the difficulty of Windows configuration issues. Example comments:

User: "How do I get Quake 3 to run in Linux?"
Zealot: "Oh that's easy! If you have Redhat, you have to download quake_3_rh_8_i686_010203_glibc.bin, then do chmod +x on the file. Then you have to su to root, make sure you type export LD_ASSUME_KERNEL=2.2.5 but ONLY if you have that latest libc6 installed. If you don't, don't set that environment variable or the installer will dump core. Before you run the installer, make sure you have the GL drivers for X installed. Get them at [some obscure web address], chmod +x the binary, then run it, but make sure you have at least 10MB free in /tmp or the installer will dump core. After the installer is done, edit /etc/X11/XF86Config and add a section called "GL" and put "driver nv" in it. Make sure you have the latest version of X and Linux kernel 2.6 or else X will segfault when you start. OK, run the Quake 3 installer and make sure you set the proper group and setuid permissions on quake3.bin. If you want sound, look here [link to another obscure web site], which is a short HOWTO on how to get sound in Quake 3. That's all there is to it!"

User: "How do I get Quake 3 to run in Windows?"
Zealot: "Oh God, I had to install Quake 3 in Windoze for some lamer friend of mine! God, what a fucking mess! I put in the CD and it took about 3 minutes to copy everything, and then I had to reboot the fucking computer! Jesus Christ! What a retarded operating system!"

So, I guess the point I'm trying to make is that what seems easy and natural to Linux geeks is definitely not what regular people consider easy and natural. Hence, the preference towards Windows.

Re:the guidence system runs Linux (1, Funny)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16358961)

You do realize that the "Quake 3" thing hasn't been remotely accurate for years, right?

Re:the guidence system runs Linux (2, Funny)

Solra Bizna (716281) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359001)

... until it is linux will stay with >1% marketshare.

Wait, remind me why that's a bad thing?

Or did you mean '<'? ;)

-:sigma.SB

Re:the guidence system runs Linux (0, Offtopic)

donaldm (919619) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359501)

Basically your post is off-topic or just flamebait but I'll reply anyway since this is a common complaint coming from uninformed MS Windows people.

As far a Linux being 1% of the market I suggest you do some reading. It may be small from the desktop perspective but in the server market it is huge and is growing faster than MS Windows, although this depends on the county and in the majority of cases the push comes from Telecoms and the Government. Most businesses are too conservative to push Linux but they do need to work with the Government and if the Government uses Linux then business will follow.

As far as application installation under *nix the installation method is dictated by the designer/writer of a program, all the user needs to to (or should do) is run a few simple commands or even run an installer GUI then run the program and in nearly all cases you don't have to reboot. It is not and I repeat NOT the fault of the OS it is always the fault of the program writer if the program installation requires a complex set of commands that the person who is doing the installation has to follow. In all cases the installer process should be well documented even if this done by the installer script. It is very rare to see this done in the MS Windows environment and in many cases software installation under MS windows is a matter of trust while under *nix it is a matter of understanding what is going on.

You mention Quake installation under Linux and as I have said before the problem is not the OS but the guys who were to lazy (IMHO) or did not have the time to write a proper installer script. Which from what I have read from your post could have been written in a few minutes.

If you are a Unix/Linux person writing the above I would say you need to do some reading. If you are a Windows person who dabbles in Linux then I hope I have provided some education.

Re:the guidence system runs Linux (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16359771)

You responded to one of the oldest cut and paste trolls out there. The guy who posted this probably hasn't even read the whole thing. Welcome to Slashdot.

Re:the guidence system runs Linux (1)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 7 years ago | (#16361669)

How could you be possibly goaded into reponding to that. I'm crying on the inside for you.

And this is different from (0, Offtopic)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 7 years ago | (#16358947)

skateboarding how? I guess the large price tag already proves you can get laid, so you don't need to do flip tricks and grinds.

Re:And this is different from (3, Insightful)

Itninja (937614) | more than 7 years ago | (#16358973)

I guess the big difference is that if you bite it boarding, you might get seriously hurt. With an outside chance of death. Whereas, if your 150ft in the air, travelling at 25mph, and your jetpack decides to crap out.... there would only be an outside chance of NOT becoming a mangled corpse.

Re:And this is different from (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 7 years ago | (#16361963)

And why isn't there a parachute to open automatically in case of rocket failure?

Re:And this is different from (3, Funny)

Thisfox (994296) | more than 7 years ago | (#16358995)

Well, for a start, you are much less likely to run out of fuel 18 metres up in the air while on a skateboard...

Re:And this is different from (4, Funny)

Excen (686416) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359081)

Well, for a start, you are much less likely to run out of fuel 18 metres up in the air while on a skateboard...

What? You mean those Mountain Dew commercials aren't accurate representations of the sport of skateboarding?

Re:And this is different from (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359265)

You mean aside from the fact that skateboards don't have a 1000-hp power output in the form of a hot supersonic gas stream located perhaps a foot or two away from you?

Well, in that case, it's different because skateboards don't have pressurized tanks of propellant that's dangerous to get on your skin, don't have multiple pieces of complex machinery, all of which is required to operate as designed in a fairly harsh environment in order to ensure your continued survival, and furthermore are fundamentally stable (if you get on a skateboard and start moving slowly, on relatively flat terrain, it has no natural tendency to dump you on your face from 20 feet in the air).

Oh, and don't forget that it's an awful lot easier to safely test your new skateboard design. When testing is hard, as with a rocket belt, development is slow and expensive.

And for the record, IAARS -- and rocket belts scare me. A lot. I'd be much more inclined to get in a rocket powered airplane, go cart, or suborbital rocket.

Re:And this is different from (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16360579)

They say there are two types (aren't there always?) of motorcyclist - those who have crashed and those who are going to crash.

I'm with the more cynical group, those that point out the third type - those who are going to crash . . .again!

We try to look away and not notice the fourth group - those who are only going to crash one more time.

KFG

No smoking (1, Funny)

Krytical (1010695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16358951)

Looks like you can't fly and smoke.

Re:No smoking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16359109)

That's what pot's for.

Re:No smoking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16361873)

I think "rocket platform" is a much better idea than "rocket pack". I'm thinking of a circular piece of metal you stand on with a vertical pole you hold onto. It would be far easier to mount lots of engine power underneath the user than on their back. (and also safer/less damage to the ears.)

The 1970's Jet Pack... (2, Interesting)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16358955)

Whatever happened the jet pack technology that NASA was working on back in the 1970's? Saw it on the "Six Million Dollar Man" TV show.

Re:The 1970's Jet Pack... (2, Insightful)

Fullhazard (985772) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359281)

They figured out that something that's expensive, dangerous, incredibly loud, only provides 30 seconds of thrust at best, and weighs about 100 pounds isn't a very good military tool. Go figure, right?

Gyroscopic stabilizers (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16359017)

These people need computer-controlled gyroscopic stabilizers. A fly-by-wire system could dramatically improve the safety of rocketbelts. No doubt that would make them much more popular.

Re:Gyroscopic stabilizers (2, Insightful)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359053)

That is not the only problem; other problems include fuel capacity (range) and thermal management. I would love, repeat, LOVE to fly one of those, but a homebuilt high-performance jet aircraft (like Viperjet) or even someday a homebuilt spacecraft would be more fun, IMHO.

Re:Gyroscopic stabilizers (1)

Cederic (9623) | more than 7 years ago | (#16361083)


a homebuilt high-performance jet aircraft

This sounds like a Darwin application.

(then again, I live in a highly populated country with some of the busiest airspace in the world)

Re:Gyroscopic stabilizers (5, Informative)

evanbd (210358) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359197)

And while we're at it, that's a *hell* of a lot easier said than done. You can't do it on cheap gyros (read: you're probably spending $5-10k per axis), and they're not particularly light weight (a couple pounds each may not seem like much, but it eats into your fuel budget quite quickly). And you need a *good* control program, which isn't easy to write. Getting it mostly right wouldn't be too hard, but would you trust your safety to "mostly right"? To date, only one VTVL rocket vehicle has demonstrated fully autonomous takeoff, hover, and landing (John Carmack's vehicle over at Armadillo Aerospace). It ain't easy.

Also, don't forget you have to build the rocket motors and feed system and such. Most belts so far are peroxide monopropellants -- a good choice IMHO, but peroxide is hard to get and takes a lot of care to handle safely. And building any size rocket motor and ensuring it's safe enough to stand next to is a bit of work.

What I'm saying is, if you're a single amateur, or a small group, then building just the rockets is a big project unto itself. It shouldn't surprise you that no one has the time, money, and skills to do that, *plus* build and test the IMU, *plus* write fly-by-wire control software for it. If a modest sized startup company decided to pursue the matter, with a bit of financial backing, I would expect they could get it all built without too much hassle (provided they had the appropriate expertise in all areas, obviously). Oh, and don't forget that your software has to handle a non-fixed CG if the person moves about much at all.

Re:Gyroscopic stabilizers (5, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359459)

You can't do it on cheap gyros (read: you're probably spending $5-10k per axis),

Why not? There are gyros that model helicopters use that are cheaper than $100, and an RC chopper is a whole lot twitchier than something with the mass of a human being in it. If your flight only lasts for a couple of minutes, then you hardly need high-precision gyros that won't drift more than a degree per hour.

-jcr

Re:Gyroscopic stabilizers (3, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359657)

Hmm. I don't know how good those gyros are; I was of the impression that there wasn't really a whole lot between the cheap sensor grade stuff and the good navigation grade fiber optic ones. Also, AIUI the differences aren't just in drift rate, but also in things like vibration sensitivity and cross-axis coupling.

I suppose you could use the inexpensive ones, as long as your goal was to change the pilot requirement from "top of the line test pilot" to "very good helicopter pilot," and not an attempt to make it flyable by anyone with a bit of simulator practice.

You might do an ok job if the gyros just tried to hold the spin *rate* to zero, and let the pilot handle leveling the vehicle; one fewer integral makes for much slower error growth.

Re:Gyroscopic stabilizers (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359801)

I suppose you could use the inexpensive ones, as long as your goal was to change the pilot requirement from "top of the line test pilot" to "very good helicopter pilot," and not an attempt to make it flyable by anyone with a bit of simulator practice.

This doesn't make any sense. If you've got attitude sensors and the means to alter the attitude through computer control of thrust, it's a programming problem.

College classes routinely build autonomous helicopters, so you can obviously reduce the "piloting" to indicating intentions to the computer that's flying the thing.

-jcr

Re:Gyroscopic stabilizers (2, Interesting)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359873)

This is true, gyros are used to control autonomous vehicles in 3d spaces, specifically using IMUs with multiple gyros on flying vehicles. I'm working on one myself and it's taken years of effort so far, there is a small community of UAV builders that all work to achieve the same goals. So it is possible.

But I wanted to point out that the parent brought up a good point about accuracy. The simple fact is you can't get around the inherent error in such sensors over time. For example, if we have one gyro just measuring one plane and we bank the aircraft into a long slow turn. Any person or device in the aircraft will, in a perfect turn, feel the force of "gravity" coming from directly below, yet the aircraft is most certainly not flying straight. The only way to compensate is to use a filter and combine the IMU sensor data with other types of sensors such as optical, gps, dead reckoning using a compass and a clock, etc. Anything helps to assist, but correction seems to be necessary.

But then you have the added weight of such sensors and the platform weight goes up. You try to compensate this with a larger powerplant and again you get added weight and size. The larger sensors use more power and require larger batteries. It's a balancing act.

The reason we don't see palm sized autonomous vehicles with highly accurate navigation is because of the current size and weight of the sensor packages. That's why new techniques such as using optical flow with a small CCD are so important, for the inherent reduction of weight and power usage.

Re:Gyroscopic stabilizers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16360001)

Hmm. I don't know how good those gyros are;
That's just it. You don't know this subject area very well, yet you share your opinions as fact. Please stop it.

Re:Gyroscopic stabilizers (2, Informative)

evanbd (210358) | more than 7 years ago | (#16360659)

Not entirely true. I have spoken with multiple people directly involved in the area -- gyro-based IMUs for rocket vehicles -- and the FOGs are clearly superior. AIUI, some of the recent MEMS gyros *might* be good enough for low-accuracy use, depending on the application details, and how much other sensor data is available to correct with.

I do know that at least until recently, inexpensive gyros were completely unusable. Modern ones appear better, but my sources suggest that they aren't all the way there yet. It's possible there are good gyros out there that haven't been tried in this application and that I haven't heard about; I'm not averse to admitting my knowledge could be out of date or incomplete. I am, however, quite confident that the problem is not so easy as the OP implied.

And for reference, IAARS, and I have read detailed discussions by people doing actual investigation with real hardware testing of exactly this problem -- and I'd say that makes me better qualified to comment than the vast majority of posters. But, like I said, not infallible -- so please don't jump on me for admitting my fallibility.

Re:Gyroscopic stabilizers (1)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359555)

To date, only one VTVL rocket vehicle has demonstrated fully autonomous takeoff, hover, and landing (John Carmack's vehicle over at Armadillo Aerospace).
What about the DC-XA [nasa.gov] ? Was that not fully autonomous?

Re:Gyroscopic stabilizers (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359679)

I don't have a good refernce handy, but I believe the answer is no. I've heard my original comment made by people in the industry who were well aware of the DC-XA, so I'm inclined to believe it's true, but I don't know enough about it to give an authoritative answer.

Re:Gyroscopic stabilizers (2, Informative)

wjsteele (255130) | more than 7 years ago | (#16361835)

To date, only one VTVL rocket vehicle has demonstrated fully autonomous takeoff, hover, and landing (John Carmack's vehicle over at Armadillo Aerospace).

I'm not sure they've actually conducted a fullly autonomous test. According to their web site [armadilloaerospace.com] , they've only done very limited tethered tests.

However, I know the Delta Clipper [nasa.gov] (DC-X) and it's follow on (DC-XA) had several sucuessful tests, fully autonomous. But even they had a bunch of development issues that eventually lead to the programs cancellation.

Bill

Re:Gyroscopic stabilizers (1)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#16360529)

You don't need stabilizing gyros, just decent control of the individual nozzles and gyroscopic sensors. think "Segway": it doesn't stabilize with gyros, it stabilizes with electronic control.

I'm not the man they think I am at home. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16359033)

Oh no. No. No. I'm a ROCKET MAN!

Duff Man! (2, Interesting)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359047)

Theres a guy who flies these jetpacks called the GoFast Rocketman [gofastsports.com] .
hes sponsored by the Go Fast Sports and Beverage Co.

I wonder if he can do the pelvic thrust and Heuuugh?

The link I pointed to contains a movie of him in action (and other stuff).

Re:Duff Man! (1)

8ball629 (963244) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359565)

If you were to follow the link given in the article, you would see an even better video (more informative and clearer) and its the same guy.

rocket "belt" (2, Insightful)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359097)

Why is it called a rocket "Belt", when it's typically something the size of a surfboard with a pair of propane tanks that you strap on your back?

Re:rocket "belt" (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359131)

Because it's strapped (belted, if you will) to your back, of course.

It seems to me you have to concentrate so much on remaining upright that you would working too hard to have fun and actually enjoy a flight.

Re:rocket "belt" (3, Insightful)

Hangin10 (704729) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359449)

This part of it I don't understand. I can understand being strapped to it, but why should the human have to support it? Why not have "_|"-shaped (excuse the ASCII-art excursion) bars under the arms and up over the chest/shoulder area with the human ON the device (like a flying Segway, just not quite so white and nerdy). This probably changes the whole concept, but I'd rather get into what I described rather than strap a rocket to my back. Strapping a rocket to one's back seems rather ill-advised in a rather distinctly "Acme" fashion...

Re:rocket "belt" (1)

JonathanR (852748) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359155)

Because these people want to live under the delusion that their technology exhibits the correlation with a helicopter, as a pair of joggers does with a Ford Expedition.

Re:rocket "belt" (3, Funny)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359179)

Why is it called a rocket "Belt", when it's typically something the size of a surfboard with a pair of propane tanks that you strap on your back?
--
#11. No pirate shall ever wear a "fanny pack".


Well, I think your .sig has answered that for us!

Re:rocket "belt" (2, Informative)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359639)

Why is it called a rocket "Belt", when it's typically something the size of a surfboard with a pair of propane tanks that you strap on your back?

The rocket belt made its first appearance in comic strips like Flash Gordon around 1934. It is everyone's evokes dream of someday flying like a bird, without the need for magic.

Re:rocket "belt" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16361907)

It's not propane, it's highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide.

Oblig etc. (1, Funny)

HeadlessNotAHorseman (823040) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359129)

I for one welcome our new rocketman overlords!

Can you imagine a beowulf cluster of rocketbelts?

I'm going to build my own rocketbelt. With blackjack. And hookers!

In Soviet Russia, the rocketbelt flies you!

Re:Oblig etc. (1)

metlin (258108) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359277)

You forgot one -

In Korea, only old people wear rocket belts!

And that's why old people die!

Re:Oblig etc. (1)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359391)

I saw Natalie Portman flying one of these, and it was powered by HOT GRITS!

Re:Oblig etc. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16359429)

ATTENTION!

If you came here because somebody asked you to, or you read a message on a forum, please note that this is not a vote, but rather a discussion to establish a consensus amongst Wikipedia editors on whether an article is suitable for this encyclopedia. We have policies and guidelines to help us decide this, and deletion decisions are made on the merits of the arguments, not by counting heads (or socks).

You can participate and give your opinion. Please sign your posts on this page by adding ~~~~ at the end. Happy editing!

Re:Oblig etc. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16359965)

\/\/o\/\/, tEH l4|\/|357 519 3\/4 d00d!

Re:Oblig etc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16359461)

In my day, rocketbelts were real rocketbelts! They looked like actual belts instead of rocketbackpacksurfboards, ran Unix, and had their information entered by punch-cards instead of your fancy "controls!" And that's how we liked it!

Re:Oblig etc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16360015)

...I've got a greased up rocketman yoda doll shoved up....
...yeah, but do the rocketbelts run Linux?
...rocketbelts, are they good or are they whack?
...Netcraft confirms that the rocketmen are dead/dying.
...I am intrigued by your thoughts HeadlessNotAHorseman, and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
...Site is Slashdotted, MIRROR HERE [urbandictionary.com] .

Re:Oblig etc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16360287)

Natalie Portman covered in hot grits and flying a rocket belt . . .

I must say. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16359153)

Chairman: the chair recognizes the gentleman from the south.

[Gentleman from the south rises while straightening his string tie.]

Gentleman from the south: Sir, I must say as a good Southerner and a passionate defender of decent human society, that I disagree with the mixing of the races. Thank you.

[Gentleman from the out returns to his seat]

Chairman: Thank you for your comments and your honesty on this matter, gentleman from the south. Any other considerations that must be voiced before we vote on this matter?

Stay Tuned For Our Exciting Conclusion.

How many people have flown a jetpack? (5, Funny)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359165)

To date, only 11 men in history have free-flown a rocketbelt (aka JetPack)

Make that 12, your forgetting Duke Nukem.

Re:How many people have flown a jetpack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16359253)

Hail to the King baby!

Sounds like a job for real-time computers (3, Interesting)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359263)

It's understandable that in 1961 the pilot needed to fly the rocket belt with only his own reflexes and semicircular canals to guide him.

But even in the late 1960s my aero-and-astro student colleagues told me that even the Boeing 727 was too unstable to be controlled by a human pilot using reflexes alone: it relied on "yaw dampers," servo mechanisms that amounted to electronic analog computers, to tame the raw behavior of the plane.

The Boeing 777 is a completely "fly-by-wire" design.

It seems to me that it ought to be possible to design microprocessor-controlled rocket belts that would be much easier and safer to fly than those of the 1960s. (Including, of course, electronic active noise cancellation in the helmet to provide at least some reduction of the "deafening noise 3 feet three feet from his ear."

Trying to fly the rocket belts described in the strikes me as rather like trying to fly a full-size, exact model of Langley's Aerodrome. It may be possible--for someone with the reflexes of a Santos-Dumont and the nerves of an Evel Knievel--but it's still just a stunt. The Wright Brothers achievement was ''not'' building an aeroplane that could get off the ground; it was building an aeroplane that they ''and others'' could get (relatively!) ''safely'' off the ground.

Re:Sounds like a job for real-time computers (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359431)

It seems to me that it ought to be possible to design microprocessor-controlled rocket belts that would be much easier and safer to fly than those of the 1960s.

OK, now the next problem is to find a fuel light enough that you can stand up and walk around with more than 20 seconds' worth hanging on your back.

rj

Re:Sounds like a job for real-time computers (1, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359471)

the next problem is to find a fuel light enough that you can stand up and walk around with more than 20 seconds' worth hanging on your back.

Got it: It's called "gasoline".

How you get a significant amount of its stored energy released in a useful way by a rocket motor is left as an exercise for the reader.

-jcr

The second problem (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359521)

Now that Smith solved the first problem, I think I can solve the second. Or, to be precise, I can point to someone who has already solved it. The Scaled Composites hybrid engine used in spaceshipone offers better thrust/weight ratio than peroxide or propane, it can be made quite small, and it is throttleable.

Ok, what's the third problem?

Re:The second problem (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359817)

Ok, what's the third problem?

Refueling it, probably. Those hybrid solid-fuel/liquid-oxidizer engines are fine for a single burn, but a tad time-consuming to reload.

-jcr

Re:Sounds like a job for real-time computers (2, Informative)

GeeksHaveFeelings (926979) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359591)

The Wright Brothers achievement was ''not'' building an aeroplane that could get off the ground; it was building an aeroplane that they ''and others'' could get (relatively!) ''safely'' off the ground.

What? Their first airplanes were insanely unstable. It was harder to control than a F/A-22 now, except the F/A-22 has a powerful computer to keep it stable. It had next to no dihedral and its horizontal stabilizer was in front of the plane, while the vertical stab had next to no moment (so it was pretty useless, though better than nothing). They could pilot it because they had practised on equally unstable unpowered gliders for years. What they achieved was a new, working model of aerodynamics (as nothing had existed at the time for propeller design and the existing knowledge about wings were wrong), a light, high-powered gasoline engine, and an airplane that could get off the ground and was cheap. It was however, not at all safe or even remotely pilotable by modern standards.

Re:Sounds like a job for real-time computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16361211)

Just a minor nitpick, but I would argue that the important thing about an airplane is not getting it into the air (which is fairly easy), but getting it safely back onto the ground.

Re:Sounds like a job for real-time computers (1)

salec (791463) | more than 7 years ago | (#16361583)

ncluding, of course, electronic active noise cancellation in the helmet to provide at least some reduction of the "deafening noise 3 feet three feet from his ear."
I am not sure if active noise cancellation systems bode well with aperiodic noise sources. There is time lag involved in DSP and sound will not stand and wait. It travels 3 feet through air in ~3ms, and through rocketbelt frame even faster. Perhaps a passive solution, like i.e. aerogel helmets as well as shields or bells around nozzles reflecting soundwaves out would do better (for sound as well as for the heat)?

What about women? (3, Informative)

Dan East (318230) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359273)

To date, only 11 men in history have free-flown a rocketbelt (aka JetPack).

According to the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] , at least one woman (Isabel Lozano [tecaeromex.com] ) has flown one as well (happened almost a month ago).

As to why haven't more people flown the device, take a look at Isabel's pictures, and you'll see that had to make a custom cast of her body for the mounting hardware the device uses. Also, for some reason many people may not feel very comfortable with jets of gas at 740 C venting at supersonic velocities mere inches from their body.

Dan East

Re:What about women? (2, Insightful)

Steve Newall (24926) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359485)

While impressive, Isabel's flight was not "free-flown" and does not count towords the list.

Re:What about women? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16359537)

She flew tethered, as many, many others have. There have only been 11 UNTETHERED pilots. Why don't try r'ing tfa.

   

Re:What about women? (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359855)

for some reason many people may not feel very comfortable with jets of gas at 740 C venting at supersonic velocities mere inches from their body.
That's why I never have the Super Burrito Special.

Re:What about women? (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359899)

for some reason many people may not feel very comfortable with jets of gas at 740 C venting at supersonic velocities mere inches from their body

Tell that to Taco Bell.

Re:What about women? (1)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#16360063)

Also, for some reason many people may not feel very comfortable with jets of gas at 740 C venting at supersonic velocities mere inches from their body.

You obvious don't load up your bean burritos with hot sauce.

On the Fringe (5, Interesting)

tb3 (313150) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359299)

The (strange/interesting/sad) part of this story is how far out the people involved are. I noticed there was no mention, either in the Slate article or the actual convention website, of these guys [rocketman.org] who claim to have the only functional rocket belt in existence. Then there's Juan Manuel Lozano, the Mexican inventor who claims to developed a break-through method for creating the 90%-pure hydrogen peroxide fuel needed for the rocket belt.

And then there's the whole RB2000 saga, which involved fraud, murder, and the disappearance of the only prototype. The full story can be found on the rocketbelt.nl site. Rocketbelt developers are out there on the edges with the ufologists, perpetual motion researchers, and free energy salesman, with the exception that rocketbelts can actually work!

Nice neat little propulsion system! (1)

musther (961493) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359329)

This video describes a propulsion system used in some rocketbelts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnIihCSF9vE [youtube.com] Apparently high pressure hydrogen peroxide, is forced by high pressure nitrogen through a grill of silver (a catalyst to the breakdown of H2O2). This breakdown produces water and oxygen, and as any chemist will tell you, quite a lot of heat. The water (at this point high pressure steam) and oxygen of course have a much higher volume than the H2O2 and are therefore forced out of the direction thruster thingies... This is quite a clever little propulsion system, I think I'd like to build one.

Re:Nice neat little propulsion system! (1)

PatTheGreat (956344) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359701)

Wait... since when does breaking bonds release heat? I thought it was the other way around...

Re:Nice neat little propulsion system! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16361405)

You're gettin back the energy used in to forming them in the first place.... Look at explosives materials, e.g. metal acetylides, where a lot of energy has been stuffed into the bonds, and gets released when they decompose.

Re:Nice neat little propulsion system! (1)

Yazeran (313637) | more than 7 years ago | (#16360947)

Well this propulsion system is not exactly new. I belive it was originally called the 'Walter cold rocket motor' in the 1930 in germany, and was used for providing energy for the turbopumps for the A4 rocket.

In the case of the A4 rocket i think they used potassium permanganate, as this is even more reactive than silver when it comes to catalysing the peroxide to water and oxygen.

Actually now when i think of it the same system was also used in the Redstone rockets of the 50's and 60 (which was basically just an upscaled A4 and was designed by Von Braun who also designed the A4
.
I'm deliberatly using the A4 designation for the V2 rocket, as the A4 was significantly better as a high altitude research platform than as a weapon..

Yours Yazeran

Plan: to go to Mars one day with a hammer.

Niagara Aerospace Museum (1)

Phantom_24 (416231) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359407)

If your anywhere in the Niagara region, definitly worth checking out one of the cradles on modern aviation and aerospace, Bell Aerospace that is. All pretty much featured at the mueseum and then some.

phishing scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16359493)

I read that as "Nigeria" and the mind instantly conjured up a story of a failed African aeronautical company that left millions in a bank account that I can somehow get my greedy little hands on. Oh well.

The Alternative? (3, Interesting)

webword (82711) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359427)

Very light jets!

2006: The year of the very light jet [ainonline.com]

Very Light Jet Magazine [verylightjets.com]

The Light Jet Age [cnn.com]

OK, so they are a $1-2 million. That's a lot of money. From what I've read, however, these jet packs aren't that cheap either. (They're not mass produced so the price hasn't dropped at all.) If you bought part of a jet as a time share, with say 20-50 other people, the price drops significantly. It is a viable option for some people.

If you want to fly... (1)

deblau (68023) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359807)

Take flying lessons [beapilot.com] . Really. It's a lot safer. If you're 16 years old [gpo.gov] and your instructor signs off, you can even fly solo [gpo.gov] .

Re:If you want to fly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16360051)

Better yet, take glider lessons [ssa.org] . You can solo at 14, be licensed at 16, it's much cheaper than powered flight particularly if you fly in a club, and it's approximately sixteen zillion times more fun.

Undocumented (3, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359925)

To date, only 11 men in history have free-flown a rocket-pack

I take it this excludes burrito dinner + sparks accidents?
     

Memory Lane (0, Offtopic)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#16359947)

This article reminds me of the very first time I was tricked into seeing goatse. It was an article similar to this, something to do with riding in/on/with amature rockets. Somebody posted, "You have to be careful, otherwise you can have horrible accidents, such as this [link]." I naively clicked it and screemed out, "hollllly shiiiit. Arrrrrrg!"

I would like to hear your initiation story....
         

Not safe? What a surprise! (1)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 7 years ago | (#16360017)

It should really come as no suprise to anyone that these things aren't safe. The stabilization is completely manual and let's face it, you get the aim off, and you can be in real trouble. This is definitely something best flown over really soft, flat terrain.

They also have a really short range. Something like several hundred feet, maybe 1000. Still, they're very cool to watch, and that in itself is the only reason it ever needed to be invented. They got some use on several TV shows back in the 70s and I seem to recall one being flown at a Superbowl.

Hard to believe something that cool was built in the 70s and nobody does anything like that 30 years later. How sad is that?

The secret of rocket packs is to.... (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 7 years ago | (#16361025)

...start running and time each pace with the little beep you get in your ear.

Well it worked for me every time in "Rocket Ranger" on my Amiga all those years ago....

Rocket Belt=Nazi Take Over (1)

poormanjoe (889634) | more than 7 years ago | (#16361477)

If this technology where available to the masses, the nazi-men would invade our country like a swarm of flying Mary Poppins. [imdb.com] Its up there on documented film. [imdb.com]

How could so many of you be so blind?

Use Model Aircraft Gas Turbines (1)

MrSteveSD (801820) | more than 7 years ago | (#16362009)

Given that small TurboJet engines are commonly available for model aircraft these days, is it now feasible to build a TuboJet pack rather than a dangerous hydrogen peroxide rocket pack?

The average weight of a man is about 190 pounds.

BMV jets (http://www.bvmjets.com/) supply a turbojet that can provide 50lbs of Thrust.

Turbine Thrust (lbs) Diameter Weight (lbs) Price JetCat P-200 50 5.12 5 $4,995.00

With 2 banks of 3 JetCat P-200's strapped to your back you would have 300lb of Thrust to play with. That should be enough to cover the weight of the man, the engines and a reasonable amount of fuel.

Or is there some flaw to this idea? Do these model jet engines only generate 50lbs of thrust when they are travelling at some speed through the air?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...