JPL Works to Combat Covid-19 Global Crisis with Ventilator Device

By Lt. General Larry James

As the extent and seriousness of the coronavirus infection became apparent, a group of JPL scientists, engineers and technicians sought a way to bring their innovation and expertise to the problem.  A key issue for the nation was the potential shortage of ventilators that would be needed for those with serious medical complications from the virus.  Gathering together, this group of dedicated JPLers applied their skills across a wide set of disciplines to come up with a simple, rapidly producible ventilator design that could be brought to market quickly and address the national and worldwide shortage of these devices.  While not meeting all the requirements of ICU type ventilators, this design could serve a large fraction of patients with less critical illness symptoms.  The team was able to produce a prototype in 37 days and follow that with successful testing at Mt Sinai Ichan School of Medicine in New York City. Emergency Use Authorization approval was granted from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) on March 24th.

"This FDA authorization is a key milestone in a process that exemplifies the best of what government can do in a time of crisis," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "This ventilator is one of countless examples of how taxpayer investments in space exploration - the skills, expertise and knowledge collected over decades of pushing boundaries and achieving firsts for humanity - translate into advancements that improve life on Earth."
"It's been exhilarating coming up with VITAL's design," said Michelle Easter, a mechatronics engineer at JPL who worked on developing the device. "Now that we have FDA approval, we're looking forward to seeing companies license this technology and share it with the rest of the world."

After receiving more than 100 applications, JPL has selected eight U.S. manufacturers to make a new ventilator tailored for coronavirus (COVID-19) patients.

To read more about JPL's ventilator, click here
Also read, CNN's "NASA team developed a ventilator tailored for coronavirus patients in 37 days."

Lt. General Larry James is the Deputy Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). At JPL, he is the Laboratory’s Chief Operating Officer responsible to the Director for the day-to-day management of JPL’s resources and activities. This includes managing the Laboratory’s explorations of the solar system and of Mars; the astronomy, physics, Earth science and interplanetary network programs; and all business operations. These activities employ 5,000 scientists, engineers, technicians, and business support personnel, generating $1.5 billion in annual revenues.
Prior to his retirement from the Air Force and his appointment as JPL Deputy Director, Lt. General James was the Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) at the Pentagon. He was responsible to the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force for policy formulation, planning, evaluation, oversight, and leadership of Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. As the Air Force's Senior Intelligence Officer, he was directly responsible to the Director of National Intelligence and the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. He led more than 20,000 ISR officers across the Air Force ISR Enterprise.
Lt. General James’ 35 year military career included assignments as a Space Shuttle Payload Specialist, GPS Program Manager, Titan IV Launch Director and Commander of the 50th Space Wing at Schriever AFB, CO. James has also served on the staffs of US Space Command, Air Force Space Command, and HQ Air Force. He was commander of the 14th Air Force at Vandenberg AFB, CA, responsible for all military satellite, launch and C2 operations, and was Director, Signals Intelligence Systems Acquisition and Operations Directorate, National Reconnaissance Office, Washington, D.C. He was the Director, Space Forces for Operation Iraqi Freedom at the Combined Air Operations Center, Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia.


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