40 days and 40 nights...
May 2, 2020 12:54 PM   Subscribe

A high-pressure ventilator prototype developed by NASA engineers to help coronavirus patients was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday, according to NASA. The approval is for use of the ventilator specifically for coronavirus patients under the FDA's ventilator Emergency Use Authorization, established by the agency on March 24. It's named VITAL (CNN)...
posted by jim in austin (25 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Okay, Jack. The next step is to get the EVA cue card and use it to form an arch over the top of the canister; just tuck one short end under one ridge on the top the other one against the ridge on the other side so that it forms a rounded arch over the top of the canister. You see, Jack, what we're going to do is slip the bag over this whole assembly and the cue card will serve to keep the bag from being sucked down against the screen. Over..
posted by zamboni at 2:24 PM on May 2 [16 favorites]


Will NASA just be shipping them directly to the FEMA warehouse, to save Trump’s people the trouble of going out and confiscating them?
posted by Thorzdad at 2:43 PM on May 2 [19 favorites]


I thought this video showing the basics of ventilators and how “low cost” solutions aren’t what they may seem was pretty instructive.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:46 PM on May 2 [12 favorites]


Will NASA just be shipping them directly to the FEMA warehouse, to save Trump’s people the trouble of going out and confiscating them?

Since the gov't research is taxpayer-funded it looks like the plans are publicly available or at least freely licensed for parties who register for information.

And according to the article, parts can be sourced outside existing supply chains for usual ventilators, so maybe this design can get around Trump's team of grifters, at least for a little while longer.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 3:03 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


Count me as skeptical. I mean, I hope it works awesome, but supposedly, the FDA regs were written by smart people in chill times.
posted by j_curiouser at 3:06 PM on May 2 [4 favorites]


Is this Good NASA or Bad (pork barrel) NASA?
If it's the latter, the ventilators probably have a tube eighteen inches wide and covered in tiny spikes of pure plutonium.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 4:14 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


"Engineer Mike Buttigieg of NASA works on the Aerospace Valley Positive Pressure Helmet."
The photo shows him wearing one of those N95 masks with a plastic valve on it. Those are meant to protect your lungs from paint, dust, etc. They do nothing to protect anyone/anything else from your breath-which goes right out the bypass valve.

those one-way valves make the masks practically useless for protecting others
posted by eye of newt at 4:31 PM on May 2 [8 favorites]


One of NVIDIA's Top Men designed a ventilator as well! It looks good but I've heard the drivers are rubbish.
(Seriously - so many bored engineers with time on their hands. If this goes on much longer we're all going to be immortal!)
posted by thatwhichfalls at 4:51 PM on May 2 [4 favorites]


those one-way valves make the masks practically useless for protecting others

Also known, in certain circles as, screw you. I got mine.
posted by Splunge at 4:55 PM on May 2 [4 favorites]


stop designing fucking new versions of ventilators. WE HAD ALL THIS BS already.

its not sexy but ffs

start retooling places to build known ones at scale.

ffs!
posted by lalochezia at 6:03 PM on May 2 [6 favorites]


*ahem* JPL engineers. It doesn't say NASA anywhere on these folks' paychecks. My understanding is that this was a bottom up effort that was initiated by these engineers, and the project kind of got adopted up the chain until Jim f'ng Bridenstine is taking credit for it.
posted by 3j0hn at 6:48 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


start retooling places to build known ones at scale.

One of the main requirements of the new design was to make use of more common, easier to procure parts and to have no issues with litigious manufacturers' IP.

I know it seems like forever ago in the current timeframe, but this happened just a few weeks ago.
posted by tclark at 6:50 PM on May 2 [4 favorites]


To clarify, JPL is a NASA installation, but it’s the only one not directly managed by NASA…it’s run by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
posted by foonly at 7:04 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


I posted this because JPL aerospace engineers with zero medical background, in consultation with medical professionals, went from nothing to a prototype that passed all tests and was approved by the FDA in a mere 40 days (and nights). It is a short term device using off the shelf components and is being offered on a royalty-free basis worldwide. The reaction here disappoints me, to say the least...
posted by jim in austin at 7:07 PM on May 2 [35 favorites]


I've also read about a new iron lung called the Exovent which fits over only the torso: Modern iron lung designed to address ventilator shortage. Supposedly, the advantages of an iron lung is that it doesn't require intubation and air isn't forced into the lung over ambient air pressure. However, the articles I read about the Exovent talk about working models, but the only images are computer rendered, no photos or videos, so who knows if it really exists.
posted by ShooBoo at 7:13 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]


To address the last two comments:
Yes, I've heard that ventilators are difficult to get right without the patient 'fighting' it or even damaging the lungs, which is why the patient is sometimes made unconcious. I was wondering about iron lungs instead (basically using a vacuum to pull the lungs open rather than forced air to push them open, I think).

Paul Alexander has been on an iron lung for 65 years. He's a practicing lawyer.

Also, in the more recent medcram youtube videos (by a Doctor for med students, but all recent ones have been covering the coronavirus--recommended!) he's suggested that the disease gets into the lungs, but it now doesn't look like it is primarily a lung disease. It uses the lungs as a pathway to the rest of the body, which is where the real damage is occuring. If true, that would explain the low success rate with the ventilators (and would probably be true for iron lungs too). You need the ventilators, since the patients can't breath, but you need to treat the other ways the body is being damaged.
posted by eye of newt at 8:42 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


"Cheap, fast or good - pick two"
You can ignore that rule if you're in an industry where poor results don't matter (software, advertising, etc) but it's going to come fully into effect when you're putting tubes into living human bodies. Medical science isn't something that can be completely solved in a weekend when a Real Engineer condescends to look at it in one of his more bored moments. We don't live in a Robert Heinlein novel.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 10:44 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]




[One deleted. Please don't post medical information without citations, particularly in the form of "It's my understanding that [description of horrific scenario that would dissuade many from seeking needed medical help]." People need to be able to access and evaluate the sources of such reports.]
posted by taz (staff) at 3:04 AM on May 3


Is this Good NASA or Bad (pork barrel) NASA?

Is this actually a thing? Waaaaay back in elementary school, I was taught the difference of pure science (let's do this because we're curious) vs. applied science (let's do this because their is a specific goal to meet for reasons "x"). I have never thought of NASA as anything other than pure science. If I am reading the above correctly, that would make all of NASA Bad NASA?

Don't get me wrong. I am Team NASA all the way and let's fund them whether or not anything "practical" comes of it. (Which... velcro, digital watches, pens that write upside down or underwater, etc.)

I've just never seen pork barrel attached to NASA unless you pretty much consider all of NASA pork barrel.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 5:30 AM on May 3 [2 favorites]


(Again, not NASA, it's JPL. I keep seeing them not getting credit).
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:36 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]


(Again, not NASA, it's JPL. I keep seeing them not getting credit).

If you are replying to my comment, I was referring to someone who specifically called out NASA and said there may be good or bad NASA. That is probably a derail. I thought mentioning JPL was irrelevant to the point I was making. Living near Houston (and having a number of friends that work for NASA adjacent orgs), I understand when people use NASA as blob or big umbrella to say something, when in fact it was an entirely different company that did the heavy lifting.

So, if you were replying to me, I agree JPL should have gotten credit. I also think NASA should never be considered pork barrel.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 6:02 AM on May 3


I also think NASA should never be considered pork barrel.

Even things like the A-3 Test stand and, from certain perspectives, the SLS?
posted by zamboni at 9:23 AM on May 3


um... yeah?

The first link says a project was started for purpose A. Purpose A was cancelled, but the project was completed for reasons of possibly being re-purposed.

The second link is... people complaining about how NASA spends money?

I don't see how either is incongruent with what I said. That is, one can believe NASA is a waste of money since it is primarily pure science (i.e. why do we need to go to the moon, Mars, etc.). To be 100% clear, this is not my position.

The other stance I am seeing from the links is "NASA is not spending their money wisely." Which assumes pure science is good and funding NASA is good and we are ultimately arguing about how they spend their money. Completing a project seems to make sense, just from the sunk cost aspect. From a pure science aspect, who knows where finishing that project will lead?

I am probably reading way too much into this, but I'll take two possible pork barrel issues over 50+ years for all of the measurable gains we have received from space exploration.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 10:42 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]


we are ultimately arguing about how they spend their money

NASA isn't handed a check marked For: Daring Mighty Things. How NASA spends money, and what it spends it on, is determined by the budget process, as overseen by those wise and prudent folks in the Executive and Legislative branches. If the NASA appropriations bill specifically says they have to spend money on a sample return mission to bring back green cheese from the Moon, someone's getting a contract for green cheese core samplers, no matter what pure science has to say about it. (Probably nothing, since there's no such animal.) The Planetary Society has a decent explainer on how the process works.

I, being a somewhat cynical soul, have a sneaking suspicion that Senator Wicker (R-Miss) had things other than pure science in mind when he added an amendment in committee to require that NASA complete the A-3 Test stand (coincidentally located at the Stennis Space Center, MS) in the same authorization bill that cancelled the Constellation program it was supposed to test engines for. Seven years later, it's still mothballed, with, as far as I know, no engine it could conceivably test even in the planning stages.

two possible pork barrel issues over 50+ years

We should be so lucky.
posted by zamboni at 6:57 PM on May 3 [2 favorites]


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