NASA has joined the fight against coronavirus with efforts underway across the USA to augment the national response, a few of which were highlighted in a media briefing earlier this month.
NASA recently launched an agency-wide call for ideas on its internal crowdsourcing platform NASA@WORK for how the space agency can use its expertise and capabilities to help the nation fight back against the COVID-19 pandemic.
In just two weeks, a combined total of 740 collective comments and ideas were submitted, and more than 4,500 votes were cast.
NASA’s efforts highlighted during the media briefing include:
Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California designed a new high-pressure ventilator tailored specifically to treat COVID-19 patients. The device, called VITAL (Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally), passed a critical test on April 21 at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York – an epicenter of COVID-19 in the United States – and now is under review for an emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The device can be built faster and maintained more easily than a traditional ventilator, and is comprised of far fewer parts, making it more economical to produce.
We usually build spacecraft, not medical devices, but we want to help. Amid the #COVID19 pandemic, we designed a high-pressure ventilator prototype called VITAL. In 37 days, it went from design to a device tested at @MountSinaiNYC; now in @US_FDA review. https://t.co/F9baOTx13M pic.twitter.com/seKGVzyVpE
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) April 23, 2020
Surface Decontamination System
Through its Regional Economic Development Program, engineers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Ohio partnered with Ohio company Emergency Products and Research in 2015 to guide the development and production of a small, portable, and economical device that decontaminates spaces such as ambulances in under an hour and at a fraction of the cost of systems currently in use. AMBUStat is being used in police cars and other areas killing airborne and surface particles of viruses. Now NASA is conducting additional research to continue to maximize the effectiveness of this device on COVID-19.
.@NASAGlenn in Ohio guided the development and production of a small, portable and economical device called AMBUStat that decontaminates spaces, such as ambulances, at a fraction of the cost of systems currently in use.
— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) April 23, 2020
Aerospace Valley Positive Pressure Helmet
NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California partnered with a variety of companies ranging from Antelope Valley Hospital and Virgin Galactic to The Spaceship Company (TSC) and Antelope Valley College to solve shortages of critical medical equipment in the local community.
One of their first efforts was to build an oxygen helmet to treat COVID-19 patients exhibiting minor symptoms and minimize the need for those patients to use ventilators. The device functions like a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to force oxygen into a patient’s low-functioning lungs.
“NASA engineer Mike Buttigieg works on the Aerospace Valley Positive Pressure Helmet, a device that was successfully tested by doctors at Antelope Valley Hospital in California” pic.twitter.com/VIUTQElA6v
— Falcon9 (@Falcon9_rocket) April 24, 2020