Guilford company’s medical invention on shipment headed to the International Space Station


GUILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A big day for Guilford company Butterfly Network with one of their high-tech medical devices launched into space to be used on the international space station.

Company founder Jonathan Rothberg, Ph.D. explains how they took bulky ultrasound technology and put it into a handheld device.

“It’s the world’s first and only handheld whole-body scanner so you can look into any part of your body by ultrasound which is completely safe and it’s built based on a semiconductor chip,” says Rothberg.

A Butterfly iQ ultrasound device was on the SpaceX Dragon cargo resupply rocket that launched Thursday afternoon, heading for the International Space Station.

“Now we can monitor the health of our astronauts every day.”

The device connects by telemedicine with a doctor on Earth. It will be tested in the zero-gravity conditions, with the potential to be a key scanning device in long-term space flights like trips to Mars, which will take six months to get there.

Dr. Rothberg has had a long relationship with the NASA program and has other inventions.

“Today I handed over to the SpaceX team our Detect and it won’t just be for COVID-19, it will be for anything that comes up while you’re in the space station so we have to be more self-sufficient.”

He says more testing is needed but his test can be reprogrammed to detect any pathogen so the possibilities are endless for its use in space. The invention of the Butterfly iQ was not for space but rather to make medicine equitable and available to all corners of the world.

“We’re working with 100 charities or nongovernmental organizations to get the butterfly
everywhere where it’s needed.”

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