SOS! I need more oxygen!

Oxygen is running low in the US as the demand for oxygen to treat COVID-19 patients is spiking. This is impacting an unexpected place – the space industry. 🚀 NASA just announced that it will delay its September satellite launch. 

Oxygen? Why does it run low?

#1 For saving lives! Though oxygen is almost everywhere in the atmosphere, hospitals need high concentrations of it to treat Covid-19 patients. So its supplies have grown tighter in the US nationwide, especially in the US South (e.g. Florida) where hospitals have been filled due to the surge in Delta infections. 

  • The last 12 hours: ⚠️ The worst-hit places are left only 12 to 24 hours worth of oxygen. 

#2 Not enough “special” drivers. It requires specially-trained drivers to transport gases like oxygen. But many drivers don’t work any more during the pandemic – worsening the situation.  

Read more on hiring difficulty: We need more workers! 

But what does all this have to do with the space industry?

Space companies like SpaceX use liquid oxygen as a propellant. During a launch, it reacts with fuel, sending a spacecraft soaring. 🚀 Now that oxygen is running low, “people come first”. 👍 Elon Musk’s SpaceX also said it will make sure that hospitals have enough oxygen before using it for its rockets.

  • “Anybody who has liquid oxygen to spare, send me an email,” said SpaceX’s president. 

As a result, NASA delayed its September satellite launch 🛰️ on Friday, and the entire industry is anticipating launch delays. 

Will people’s daily life be impacted? 

Surprisingly, yes. In Florida, some residents have been seeing or smelling the evidence of the liquid oxygen shortfall in their water supplies. Wonder why? 

Answer: Because liquid oxygen is also used to purify our water. Without this procedure, our water may taste or smell funky. Some cities have imposed restrictions on the use of liquid oxygen in water purification…so the above occurred. 👆

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