Jetpacks for astronauts: It’s one of those ideas that sound brilliant—in theory. As we head further and further out into our solar system, it will become more essential to have a way to move around on the surfaces of asteroids or small moons.
But current jetpack technology is limited for one big reason: they’re not very effective at stabilizing an astronaut in space. On an asteroid, one tiny nudge could set an astronaut spinning. The thrusters on today’s jetpacks would have a hard time counteracting that motion.
However, with a little help from angular momentum, a stable, efficient jetpack may soon be headed to an asteroid near you. Draper Laboratories in Cambridge, Mass. is using new gyroscope technology to steady their next-generation jetpacks.