Jetpack blasts off at Smithsonian event

By Melissa Platero, CCNN Writer

Patrick Stewart
Patrick Stewart was a celebrity guest at the event.

If there’s one futuristic gadget that tech lovers have been eagerly anticipating since 80s and 90s science-fiction movies, it’s gotta be Rocketeer-style jetpacks. Okay, maybe some Back to the Future hoverboards, too, but there’s been no breakthrough there yet. Jetpacks, though, are definitely on their way, since a human pilot flew one for 20 seconds at the Smithsonian magazine’s “Future is Here” festival in Washington, DC!

Yep, from May 16-18, the incredibly popular magazine hosted its annual celebration of “science, technology, culture and the arts” centered around the theme of “the future”. Celebrity guests included Star Trek’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard and X-Men’s Professor Xavier actor Patrick Stewart, Star Trek’s Hikari Sulu actor George Takei, and dozens of scientists like engineers, futurists, rocket makers, and physicists.

The highlight of the event was definitely the jetpack demo flight inside the Ronald Reagan Building, where eager crowds lined the balconies to witness science-fiction brought to life. Fueled by hydrogen peroxide and nitrogen gas, which produce jets of powerful steam when they react to the presence of silver, the jetpack blasted the pilot into the air.

To navigate, the pilot gripped one handle that controls the jetpack’s direction, while another handle managed how much power was being used to soar upwards. Don’t expect to be buying one anytime soon, though, since the gadget costs between $100,000 to $150,000 and can only be purchased as unassembled parts.

Images courtesy of Smithsonian.