Virgin Orbit bridge ventilator at California Science Center

Silver cased ventilator on work bench with Virgin Orbit logo
Virgin Orbit
Headshot of Greg Rose
by Greg Rose
20 April 2021

Virgin Orbit’s bridge ventilator, which was developed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, is part of a special exhibition at the newly-reopened California Science Center.

Engineers at Virgin Orbit designed and built the bridge ventilator to help patients breathe. Guided by the medical expertise and clinical experience of the Bridge Ventilator Consortium – a group of doctors, medical researchers, and medical device engineers collaborating to advise multiple different low-cost ventilator efforts – Virgin Orbit leveraged its extensive engineering design, manufacturing, and operational capabilities to quickly design a novel ventilator, test prototype units, and ramp up production of the devices.

With support from expert advisors, Virgin Orbit was able to quickly create its design and deliver a total of 600 units to the state of California. The team also shared the design for free with organisations like Invictus Holdings in South Africa, enabling distribution to particularly vulnerable communities.

A Virgin Orbit engineer working on a ventilator
Virgin Orbit

Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart told his team: “I could not be prouder to see your ventilator standing in the middle of that exhibit as a symbol of what companies of caring people did in the face of adversity and with the strength of their creativity and will.”

picture of 2 men sat at a work bench with 2 laptops both wearing visors look to be testing a ventilator in the process of being made
Virgin Orbit

The system can be used to treat moderate hypoxic and/or hypercarbic respiratory failure – in most settings, this would include the majority of COVID-19 patients – freeing up existing, more sophisticated ventilators to be used on patients with the most severe symptoms.

While working to develop and manufacture the ventilators, the Virgin Orbit team continued to forge ahead on its primary mission of improving access to space for small satellites. Earlier this year, its LauncherOne rocket reached space during the company’s second launch demonstration, successfully deploying 10 payloads for NASA’s Launch Services Program.

As it works towards its next launch, Virgin Orbit shared a video illustrating its NewtonThree rocket’s surprising range of motion. Head over to Virgin Orbit for the latest from the team.