NASA wants to relaunch the space jet pack

What if the jet pack was the mode of transportation of the future? Featured a few decades ago, and seen again this weekend in Austria before the Formula 1 Grand Prix, this machine lets you fly through the air thanks to a dorsal reactor. Since technology is absolutely crucial on Earth, the idea is to take it to space! Or rather, bring it back because we all remember this photo of US astronaut Bruce McCandless using a parabolic device. It was in 1984, and the picture stunned the whole world. The crash of the Challenger rocket would have put an end to his experiments, as they were deemed too dangerous.

But NASA has decided to relaunch this project, and the US space agency has just awarded the SAS (Space Act Agreement) Special aviation services To develop a commercial version of the astronaut jetpack. The goal has always been to allow the astronauts to move and maneuver in the void of the cable attached to their ship. In the specification, we note that the footrests are lockable and the arms are mechanical. The US spacesuits will be equipped with a small thruster to help the lost astronauts return to the station, and they will also integrate an automated system to prevent the astronaut from entering a dangerous trajectory.

Nitrogen for impulse banks

This project relates to low-Earth orbit programs, with the first private flights, so NASA ensures that it is at the cutting edge of technology by validating Special Space Service solutions. Unlike the 1980s model, it is an AMU (Autonomous Maneuvering Unit) model, intended for “civilian, commercial and national security missions”. This device will enable “safer assembly of LEO (low earth orbit) commercial space stations and maintenance, recovery and inspection of space systems.”

As for how the craft will operate, it will still use cold gases such as nitrogen in the propellant banks. In the 1980s, there were about twenty craters of about six hours of autonomy. Also announced is the integration of smart sensors to help maintain stability and navigation.

AMU (Autonomous Maneuvering Unit) layout prototype © SAS

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