Peter N. Van Schaik

From Ohio History Central

Peter N. Van Schaik invented a propulsion backpack that allowed astronauts to maneuver in space outside of a space vehicle.

Van Schaik was born in 1929. He eventually found employment at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Fairborn, Ohio. While at Wright-Patterson, Van Schaik developed his backpack. The device released nitrogen from a hand-held gun. The force from releasing the nitrogen propelled the astronaut in an opposite direction. Van Schaik's device was used for the Gemini Space Program. Astronaut Edward White II was the first astronaut to use the invention in outer space. On June 3, 1965, White departed from his space capsule, Gemini IV, and safely returned to it. Van Schaik eventually admitted that he based his propulsion backpack on a device from a "Buck Rogers" comic strip.

Van Schaik died on September 4, 1989.