Jetpacks: How Do They Work To Make Individual Flights Possible?

The future is going to be pretty awesome. I don’t think any of us doubt that. One of the coolest aspects of the future is that each of us will have our own personal jetpack. Instead of a long, slow daily commute, we’ll zip straight to work at 100 miles per hour, skirting along the tree tops and skipping that brutal traffic. We would no longer have to suffer from the chaos of the roads every weekend or rush hour. Construction workers wouldn’t even need scaffolding to do their job any more!

Wait, weren’t we saying this about the future more than 50 years ago?

In popular culture, jetpacks have been used all the time; the idea clearly fascinates us. For example, remember the time when James Bond uses it in Thunderball to make a smooth escape? Or when Kick-Ass uses it to bring down Frank D’amico and the Red Mist? Even Elroy Jetson (The Jetsons) floats around in a jetpack! The list can go on and on. It makes one wonder that, considering that it is already 2015, where’s my own jetpack??

First things first, how does a Jetpack actually work?

article-2606751-1D286DA700000578-374_634x411Most of the devices we refer to as jetpacks are actually rocket packs. By definition, a rocket carries all of its fuel with it, and to achieve propulsion, the fuel and oxidizer (liquid oxygen) get mixed together and combusted without any intake of outside air. The basic principle on which a jetpack works is Newton’s Third Law (every action has an equal and opposite reaction). The hot gas produced when fuel is burned in the combustion chamber shoots downwards, which in turn produces an upward thrust. Piece of cake, right?

This looks easy in theory, but the actual practical approach is a bit more complicated. A jetpack is basically a miniature rocket, which sounds awesome! Now, imagine flying with it. Still excited by the prospect?

Why isn’t it feasible for commercial use?

Unfortunately, human beings simply aren’t meant to fly. Being relatively squat and unwieldy creatures, we require a large amount of force to be lifted into the air.

Secondly, creating that amount of lift with a rocket-propulsion system means burning a lot of fuel, so until recently, even the best jetpacks could only stay in the air for about 30 seconds.

Even if we did make a fully functional jetpack that the average consumer could buy, it would only be available at astronomical rates (about $100,000). We’d all have to go “Breaking Bad” just to own one of those bad boys… not to say that it wouldn’t be worth it!

The Martin Jetpack

The Martin Jetpack

Don’t be so glum, folks, because Martin Jetpack has made it their goal to engineer a jetpack that will last for about 30 minutes. Until then, however, we’ll have to be content with Jetpack Joyride.

Now that you understand what a jetpack is all about, let’s go for a ride. Check your harness and hang on tight!


  1. Wikipedia
  2. How Stuff Works
  3. How Do Jetpacks Work? – The Telegraph
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About the Author

Ashish is a Science graduate (Bachelor of Science) from Punjabi University (India). He spends a lot of time watching movies, and an awful lot more time discussing them. He likes Harry Potter and the Avengers, and obsesses over how thoroughly Science dictates every aspect of life… in this universe, at least.

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