- Press Release
- Sep 29, 2022
KSC Transfers Oxygen Delivery System Technology to USAF
The Medevac Oxygen System, developed at Kennedy Space Center, is to
be used by the U.S. Air Force through a technology transfer agreement with
the KSC Technology Programs and Commercialization Office.
The system, created by NASA biomedical electronics
technician Barry Slack, was originally designed to provide therapeutic
oxygen supply to astronauts being flown aboard the C-130 aircraft in case of
a forced landing at a Space Shuttle Transatlantic Abort Landing (TAL) site.
Through an intergovernmental agency technology transfer, the
system is now being tested for planned incorporation into the U.S. Air Force
Air Mobility Command for use in C-130s and C-141s.
Slack created the system, which fits in a watertight case,
in response to an inspection of medical resources at a TAL site. The
inspection showed the existing oxygen distribution system would not cover a
scenario when the majority of astronauts being transported would need
oxygen. An expanded system was needed, but the cost was a staggering $1.25
Before beginning to design the new system, Slack consulted
with staff at Patrick Air Force Base about how the system could be designed
to best service a C-130.
Pararescue specialist Senior Master Sgt. Greg Lowdermilk –
who doubles as a reservist with the 920th Rescue Group and program analyst
for the Department of Defense Manned Space Flight Support Office at Patrick
– was particularly helpful, Slack said.
“It makes me feel good to know that lives could be saved
because of this system, which is inexpensive and easy to build,” Slack said.
Each new kit costs only approximately $1,300 in materials to
build. Slack built eight systems, six are kept in Germany to support TAL
sites and two are spares kept at KSC.
Slack, who works in the Biomedical Lab at KSC, equips Black
Hawk helicopters with medical supplies to support potential medical needs
for astronauts during launch and landing.
U.S. Air Force testing of a Medevac Oxygen System kit
provided by KSC is nearly complete, according to Master Sgt. David “Chris”
Hudson of the Aeromedical Evacuation Equipment Research and Acquisition
section of the Command Surgeon’s Office at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.
Laboratory testing of the kit, conducted at Brooks AFB, Texas, was completed
on Sept. 12.
In addition to laboratory testing, the system must also pass
airborne form, fit, and function testing before it is approved for use
aboard Air Force medevac aircraft. Initial flight testing of the kit aboard
a C-141 transport aircraft was complete last month. Once the system is
formally approved for use, the Air Force will proceed with parts
procurement, assembly and kit deployment to aeromedical evacuation units
around the world.
The KSC Medevac Oxygen System will replace the Air Force’s
aging Therapeutic Oxygen Manifold System (TOMS) currently used on
aeromedical evacuation aircraft. The Air Force’s supplier of TOMS units has
gone out of business, making procurement of new units or replacement parts
impossible. KSC’s system, which uses commercially available off-the-shelf
components, will provide an inexpensive, readily available solution to meet
future Air Force needs.
First awareness of the Air Force’s problem occurred when the
Technology Programs and Commercialization Office’s technology counselor, Lew
Parrish, received a message from the Chief of In-Flight Medical Equipment at
Ramstein Air Base, Germany, asking for information on the KSC system as a
potential replacement for their TOMS units.
Parrish, a 23-year Air Force veteran now working for the
University of Florida’s Southern Technology Applications Center, then
embarked on a 19-month odyssey to locate the correct person and office
within the Air Force with whom to collaborate.
The Air Force plans to use the Medevac Oxygen System on
existing C-141 aircraft and future C-130J and C-130X aircraft equipped with
a LOX unit for medical use. The Medevac Oxygen System may be deployed on a
variety of opportune aircraft as well. The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard are
also considering using the KSC developed system aboard their aeromedical
For more information on NASA KSC technology transfers and
spinoffs, see the NASA Spinoffs fact sheet at
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