In the early 1960s, Bell Aerosystems built a rocket pack which it called the “Bell Rocket Belt” or “man-rocket” for the US Army, using hydrogen peroxide as fuel. This concept was revived in the 1990s and today these packs can provide powerful, manageable thrust. This rocket belt’s propulsion works with superheated water vapor. A gas cylinder contains nitrogen gas, and two cylinders containing highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide. The nitrogen 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 was led by two insulated curved tubes to two nozzles where it blasted 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 had to wear insulating clothes.
One Bell Rocket Belt is on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s, National Air and Space Museum annex, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, located near Dulles Airport.
Small Rocket Lift Device, November 1961 [ 186 Pages, 4.54MB ]
Individual Lift Device Records from the U.S. Army, 15 October 1967 [ 93 Pages, 4.54MB ]