NASA’s JPL Designs Ventilators Amid COVID-19 Pandemic Written 20 May 2020


The components of a VITAL Pneumatic brassboard are laid out on a bench connected to the blue and white test lung simulator as engineers test the design’s output. | NASA; Aerospace America

Aerospace America reports that the idea for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab to begin designing ventilators amid the COVID-19 pandemic came from flights project engineer David Van Buren. Within 35 days of Van Buren explaining “the concept to co-workers at the Left Field design bay,” the “team finished building the first of two prototypes and two days later it was at the Icahn School of Medicine adjacent to Mount Sinai hospital in New York City for testing.” The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “approved the design on April 30 for emergency use. About 100 manufacturers around the world have now asked to license the design at no charge from Caltech, which operates JPL for NASA. As of late May, engineers from the design teams were evaluating and scoring the license applications and meeting virtually with applicants in 30-minute sessions to answer questions.” FDA “approval of a second prototype is pending.” Both designs use unique materials, from each other and from other ventilator designs, to avoid reducing the overall supply of ventilator supplies. The team “succeeded at keeping their designs as simple and cheap as possible.” The “task, overall, was not as simple as they thought, and the next step will be to hear that their handiwork is indeed saving lives.”
Full Story (Aerospace America)