Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has signed the Space Act Agreement with NASA, which will see the sharing of expertise, knowledge, resources and ingenuity to aid in the fight against COVID-19.
This Space Act Agreement outlines Virgin Galactic’s commitment to develop innovative solutions to the problems facing healthcare workers on the frontlines. Virgin Galactic’s participation is aimed at ensuring that the best and brightest at Virgin Galactic can support their local communities during this challenging time and provide life-saving solutions for those suffering from COVID-19.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said, “The work NASA employees are doing in California is one of several examples of how the agency is contributing to the whole-of-government response to coronavirus. By channeling the unique skillset of our workforce and engaging private and public partners, we can make a difference in communities such as the Antelope Valley and nationwide.”
The assembly line itself is a landmark effort, made up of 12 workstations, each hosting a step in the hood fabrication process and manned by a member of a 20-strong volunteer team made up of NASA Armstrong and TSC employees.
This team was supported by a further group of volunteers working behind the scenes to support design, materials procurement and tool sourcing.
“These products will be made available to the Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, California – where we were able to conduct pressure testing on five prototype hoods and secure initial authorisation for production of the full batch of 400 units of the model approved by doctors. Separately, we’re also working on conducting a further test program with Bartlett Community Hospital in Juneau, Alaska.”
Virgin Galactic, together with TSC, NASA and the Antelope Valley Hospital team, has also been working on a separate project to develop and build negative pressure enclosures – specialist equipment that covers a patient on a gurney or hospital bed.
These enclosures are designed to protect medical staff by containing infected air and filtering it so that it does not contaminate the wider room environment.
The team tested the first units, rapidly developed over the past week, with positive results, and is currently implementing some minor modifications to the units and will be reviewing options for FDA authorisation and wider testing.
Virgin Galactic is proud to be playing an active role in the Antelope Valley COVID-19 Task Force alongside NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center, Antelope Valley College, The Spaceship Company and the City of Lancaster, CA.
Early in the outbreak, this taskforce came together with a shared mission to develop the solutions needed to protect healthcare workers and save lives. With daily meetings and rigorous design and production efforts, the Antelope Valley COVID-19 Task Force is bringing together the community in the spirit of innovation to provide much-needed assistance.
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