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This jetpack unbelievably predates the film Gravity by 50 years

The first such machine was imagined in 1919 – but by the 1960s, it was a space race reality.

IF YOU SAW the movie Gravity this weekend or in the past two weeks, George Clooney’s trouble with a jetpack will have caused you some heart-stopping moments.

The idea for a jetpack dates back to Russia in 1919 but it was only in the early 1960s that the US developed prototypes. And yet, this model – shown off here at Brands Hatch racetrack in Kent, England, in 1966 – looks incredibly similar to that worn by Clooney’s character in the Alfonso Cuarón film currently in cinemas.

Described quaintly in this old newsreel as a “cross between an aqua lung and a motorbike”, it manages to build up quite a bit of height and speed. With man about to land on the Moon within three years, the jetpack was getting close to practical application.

The flight won’t last long – only about half a minute – but even in space today, jetpack power is similarly short-lived. Zero gravity, however, means that a little push goes a lot further up there.

via British Pathé/Youtube

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