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This week a TPL Kids website visitor might have been channeling his inner-Rocketeer* when this question was wondered. This week we’re going to find out if jet packs work and if they are real.
While jet packs have made appearances in film/television, these devices have yet to make its way to mainstream consumers. Yes, jet packs are real and were in development almost 70 years ago.
How do jet packs work? There’s a great article on the website HowStuffWorks that looked at why jet packs have yet to take off (pun intended) with consumers and it turns out that it has a lot to do with how unfeasible it is… and also physics.
Jet packs need to create all the lift with pure thrust, to do so a lot of fuel is needed and these packs only hold enough for about 30 seconds. The more fuel you add the heavier the jet pack will be. Also, putting a jet engine on your back is not safe and the sound emitted by the engine is very loud.
An article in Popular Mechanics succinctly described how jet packs work. It works the same way rocket engines do by combining fuel with an oxidizing agent. The chemical reaction releases copious heat energy causing hot gas to shoot downwards to produce thrust.
So while jet packs have been more or less ruled out in the short term... we can always dream.
*The Rocketeer is a Disney film from the 90’s based on a book from the 80’s.