Hi, welcome to Germany, where myself and Ryan are once again on the trail of information for The Science Of Superheroes.This week we're looking at jet packs, or more importantly the Rocketeer’s rocket!Before we start I had an email from a concerned reader a couple of days ago asking if Ryan was ok as I mentioned last week he was being a little quiet.I’ve yet to get to the bottom of it, I did try over a beer and a bite to eat earlier today but just as I thought Ryan was about to open up he suddenly stopped mid-flow and made an excuse to leave.It was the strangest thing, just as I was munching on a rather large bratwurst, Ryan seemed to get rather nervous and he said he had somewhere he had to be.It all seemed very odd. But fear not dear readers (and Pam from Bury St Edmunds, who sent in the email) none of this will get in the way of our scientific exploration this week, as Ryan is back now to ask more probing questions for me to answer.So let’s get going.
WHAT IS IT?
A jetpack or rocket pack is a device that when strapped to a person’s back is designed to lift them into the air and give them the ability to fly (or at least hover for a bit). WHO DOES IT BELONG TO?
The particular rocket pack in question for this chapter of The Science Of Superheroes belongs to comic-book adventurer Cliff Secord, who used the device to fight Nazi’s in the 1991 movie Rocketeer.Created by Dave Stevens in 1982, Cliff was a stunt pilot who happened to come across an experimental rocket that allowed him to soar amongst the clouds. He then used this to do what man (and woman) has dreamed about for years - fly!
OH, I WANT ONE! THAT SOUNDS VERY EXCITING, WHICH MEANS ROCKET PACKS PROBABLY DON'T EXIST!
Well Ryan that’s where you’re wrong because rocket packs do exist!Over the years numerous people have attempted to get rocket packs off the ground (no pun intended) from winged jetpacks and the Bell Rocket Belt to the Jump Belt, which was part of Project Grasshopper. ERM...PROJECT GRASSHOPPER?
Yep, in 1958 engineers Garry Burdett and Alexander Bohr created what they called a jump belt which made use of cylinders filled with nitrogen gas that allowed the wearer to move 7 metres into the air.However what might interest you more is the Himmelsturmer which was a jetpack invented in Germany during World War II (and the reason we’re in Germany this week).The Himmelsturmer consisted of two Schmidt jet tubes strapped to a single pilot, with the first tube fitted to the pilot’s back to provide lift and forward thrust and the second to his front to provide upward thrust.The jetpack was designed to move a person around numerous obstacles and allowed for jumps of up to 60 metres.
SO COULD I USE THE HIMMELSTURMER TO LIFT ME OFF THE GROUND AND TURN ME INTO THE ROCKETEER?
Erm, no not exactly.Although there are such things as jetpacks and rocket packs, the sad reality is that they can’t do exactly what the Rocketeer could, as there are a number of problems associated with turning jetpacks into the marvellous wonders you see in sci-fi stories.Safety is of course a big issue when attempting to strap an ignition device to a person’s back as well as figuring out what to do about all the heat produced from the packs (although heat protected suits could be worn).Then there’s the expense of putting the pack together, along with the fact that technology just isn’t as advanced as it really needs to be to make things work.However the real stumbling block is of course gravity, which will always put a bit of a spanner in the works when it comes to lifting people off the ground.This is obviously not so much a problem in space, which is why the Manned Manoeuvring Unit (or MMU for short) is used by astronauts, which allows them to move around in space.So if you have visions of zipping around the clouds, don’t give up hope as people are always working on developing the rocket packs that exist today, however I would probably stick to taking flights on aeroplanes for now as you’re more likely to get to your destination a lot quicker.
And now you know.
SUPER SCIENCE EQUATION: Rocket pack + Ryan = A hovering Ryan
Right that's all from Germany, I think I've had one too many bratwursts over the last couple of days and there's only so much German sausage one guy can take, so whilst I get over this meat overload prepare yourself for our next exciting entry!