The pandemic, out of all places, has also delayed rocket launches because oxygen was diverted from launch pads to hospitals.
According to an exclusive report by Bloomberg, diversion of liquid oxygen has led NASA to announce it will delay the September launch of its next earth-surveillance satellite by a week.
Oxygen chilled to its liquid form at -184 C is a crucial propellant for launch firms from SpaceX to ULA to Virgin Orbit. Now the industry is anticipating launch delays as patients on ventilators take precedence in the commodity gas supply chain.
Space Exploration Technologies Corp. President Gwynne Shotwell sounded the industry alarm this week at a conference in Colorado, calling for anyone with oxygen to spare to contact her. Elon Musk, the company’s founder, tweeted Thursday that lean liquid oxygen supplies pose “a risk, but not yet a limiting factor” for SpaceX’s launches.
NASA and the United Launch Alliance (ULA) , said that the launch of Landsat 9, a surveillance satellite that monitors climate change will be delayed by a week to September 23 because of constraints facing nitrogen supplier Airgas Inc.
Amid a new Covid-19 surge in the US, the state of Florida is going through a major crisis as hospitals and funeral homes are running out of space for bodies. Worse, oxygen shortage is leading to fears that there may be more avoidable deaths.
Florida has reported an average of 227 Covid deaths a day this past week, according to a New York Times database. The average new known cases (23,314 a day) went 30 per cent higher than the state’s previous peak in January. There are now more than 17,000 people hospitalised with the virus in Florida, reported US News. Covid-related hospital admissions tripled in the past month in the state.
The US, as a whole, is also seeing a spike in cases, mainly due to the highly contagious delta variant. The total number of people hospitalised due to the virus in the US at present crossed 1 lakh on Thursday. This is the highest in eight months. The country saw a 12% increase in new cases over the past week, but deaths were up 23%, reported NBC News.