In the early 1960s, Bell Aerosystems built a rocket pack which they called the “Bell Rocket Belt” or “man-rocket” for the US Army, using hydrogen peroxide as fuel. The rocket belt is credited to Wendell Moore, an engineer who worked at Bell Aerosystems and the design of the rocket power unit is credited to James C. McCormick of Buffalo NY.
This concept was revived in the 1990s and today these packs can provide powerful, manageable thrust.
How does a Rocket Belt work?
The nitrogen in the Rocket Belt presses the hydrogen peroxide onto a catalyst, which decomposes the hydrogen peroxide into a mixture of superheated steam and oxygen with a temperature of about 740 °C. This is led by two insulated curved tubes to two nozzles where it blasts out, supplying the recoil. The pilot can vector the thrust by altering the direction of the nozzles through hand-operated controls. To protect from resulting burns the pilot has to wear insulating clothes.
The pack has two levers, rigidly connected to the engine installation. Pressing on these levers, the pilot deflects the nozzles back and the pack flies forward. Accordingly, raising this lever makes the pack move back. It is possible to lean the engine installation to the sides (because of the ball and socket joint) to fly sideways. The pilot can also control his rocket pack’s flight differently, by changing the center of gravity of his/her body. For example, if he/she bends their legs and raises them to the stomach, the center of gravity will move forwards and the pack will be inclined and fly forward.
Duration: 30 secs
Thrust: 145 kgf
Max distance: 250 m
Max altitude: 30 m
Max Speed: 96 km/h
Equipped mass: 60 kg
Fuel Stock: 23 litres
Difference between the Rocket Belt & Jet Belt
A Jet Belt/ Jet Pack runs on a jet turbine engine and runs on jet (aviation 1) fuel. Whereas the Rocket Pack/ Rocket Belt uses hydrogen peroxide and they’re built with rocket engines. The Jet pack was designed around the same time as the Rocket Belt in the late 60’s but the program was shut down. The engine in the Jet Pack was onsold to the military for tomahawk missiles.
Modern builders and pilots through the years
Harold Graham – The first pilot in the world to perform a free flight, on April 20, 1961.
Bill Suitor – The pilot who flew in the James Bond movie and in the opening ceremony of the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984.
Nelson Tyler – Built the Rocket Belt used at the opening ceremony of the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984.
Eric Scott – Has flown the most flights and flew across the royal Gorge.
Juan Lozano – Builds his own Rocket Belts and built David Mayman’s for Rocket Compulsion.
David Mayman – Built & flew his own Rocket Belt over Sydney Harbour in the documentary Rocket Compulsion.
Isabel Lozano – First ever woman pilot.
Compilation of the History of Rocket Belts & Flights