Virgin Orbit has developed a new mass-producible bridge ventilator to help in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Virgin Orbit team has been consulting with the Bridge Ventilator Consortium (BVC), led by the University of California Irvine (UCI) and the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), a group formed to spawn and nurture efforts to build producible, simple ventilators to aid in the current COVID-19 crisis. Pending clearance by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Virgin Orbit aims to commence production at its Long Beach manufacturing facility in early April, sprinting to deliver units into the hands of first responders and healthcare professionals as soon as possible.
Really nice work by Virgin Orbit. Make sure to watch the video that demonstrates what they’ve designed. If they mentioned this last week when touting that they were staying open through the pandemic, I might have been less cranky.
However, it’s an odd time for Virgin Orbit to take this on. They are in for a tough stretch in terms of funding, with the parent organization dropping their funding levels due to their underperformance on LauncherOne thus far and, obviously, the pandemic, since no one can announce bad news without blaming it on that. Though for Virgin, that’s totally valid, as a massive amount of their revenue comes from industries hit the hardest—travel and hotels.
Word is that Virgin Orbit is even looking for funding from the government to get them through their test campaign. Here’s hoping that they’ve worked out their technical issues in the run up to the first launch and they really are close.