I recently watched, The Martian and was wondering about some of the manoeuvres and propulsion in space.
Specifically the manoeuvre the Ares 3 crew use in the scene where they pick up Mark Watney after he leaves Mars' atmosphere. The crew blow an airlock with an IED in order to slow their relative speed with the MAV and in the same vein, Watney then uses the same principle when he does his 'Iron Man' stunt, using the escaping air to propel himself towards the Ares 3.
My question is, how is this possible? How can escaping an escaping gas (from a pressurised container, a spacecraft or a suit), venting into a vacuum, produce thrust with no particles to act against?
I've seen similar depictions of this in, for example, Battlestar Galactica. The Colonial Vipers vent some kind of gas to aid manoeuvrability.