Virgin Orbit has secured an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its ventilator, which the small satellite launch company designed and prototyped within the past few weeks in response to growing need for ventilator hardware to address the most severe cases of COVID-19 infection. Virgin Orbit anticipates deliveries of the ventilator hardware to start “within the next few days” now that it has secured the agency’s authorization.
Virgin Orbit designed its ventilator, which is a take on an automated version of the manual resuscitators used most frequently in ambulances by paramedics responding to calls where a person has lost the ability to breath on their own, based on guidance from a group of experts and doctors called The Bridge Ventilator Consortium. It’s designed mostly as a stop-gap and supplement to free up use of proper ventilator hardware to treat the most severe respiratory symptoms in COVID-19 patients, but should still free up valuable medical resources that are in short supply as the pandemic continues.
Already, Virgin says it’s manufacturing the ventilators, and is making “over 100 per week” in terms of its ongoing production rate. The initial delivery set to go out this week will be 100 units that will be shipped to California’s Emergency Medial Services Authority for distribution depending on need in that sate.
While it has done a lot to quickly ramp up this production line and start shipping ventilators, Virgin Orbit says that it’s been continuing to build out its own small satellite launch system. In fact, it just recently flew a key final test of its LauncherOne vehicle and the carrier aircraft that brings it to its launch altitude — the last big step before it runs a full demonstration of its system, including an orbital flight, later this year.