Mission Monday: NASA develops oxygen helmet for COVID-19 patients

In this week’s Mission Monday, we are exploring a recent NASA innovation helping the response to coronavirus (COVID-19). Engineers at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California have joined a specialized task force in designing and testing a new oxygen hood to treat COVID-19 patients.

When thinking of the organizations aiding patients during a global pandemic, the space industry may not be the first to come to mind.

However, NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center has teamed up with Antelope Valley Hospital, the City of Lancaster, Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Company (TSC), and Antelope Valley College to devise practical solutions for patients suffering from COVID-19.

One of these solutions comes in the form of a newly designed oxygen hood, called the Aerospace Valley Positive Pressure Helmet.

The oxygen hood prototype, which was developed by NASA engineer Mike Buttigieg, functions like a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine and can be used on patients exhibiting mild cases of the virus.

The device works by forcing oxygen into a patient’s impaired lungs, which may reduce the likelihood those patients will require a ventilator. NASA recently reported that the oxygen hood works, and production to supply more of these helmets is underway.

Throughout the pandemic, critical medical equipment has been in short supply. This caused the medical community to look elsewhere for solutions, leading to an unlikely, yet fruitful partnership between doctors and aerospace engineers, who came together with the shared goal of helping their local community.

“NASA is more than scientists, engineers and explorers. We are neighbors and members of communities across the country,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said.

While COVID-19 has posed some difficult challenges for the medical community, innovative new solutions are coming to the forefront of COVID-19 patient care and health care worker protection through unique partnerships like this one.

To learn more about how NASA is helping in the national response to COVID-19, explore our new exhibit Mission: Control the Spread now on display.

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