COVID-19 Related Propellant Supply Issues Delay Landsat 9 Launch, Impact SpaceX Missions

Landsat 9 Operational Land Imager 2 (Credit: Ball Aerospace)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA says that a surge in COVID-19 cases has caused supply issues that have delayed the planned launch of the Landsat 9 Earth observation satellite from Vandenberg Space Force Base by one week to no earlier than Sept. 23.

“Current pandemic demands for medical liquid oxygen [LOX] have impacted the delivery of the needed liquid nitrogen supply to Vandenberg by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and its supplier Airgas,” the space agency said in a blog post. “Airgas converts the liquid nitrogen to gaseous nitrogen needed for launch vehicle testing and countdown sequences. DLA and Airgas now have implemented efforts to increase the supply of liquid nitrogen to Vandenberg.”


XCOR Signs Fuel Agreement with Airgas

XCOR's Lynx suborbital vehicle


Airgas, Inc. (NYSE: ARG), the largest U.S. distributor of gases, welding and safety products, and XCOR Aerospace, which develops and produces reusable rocket-powered vehicles and propulsion systems, today jointly announced a 15-year product sales agreement and a sponsorship agreement. Airgas will provide liquid oxygen, helium, and nitrogen for XCOR’s reusable, non-toxic propulsion systems, including the propulsion system on the XCOR Lynx reusable suborbital spacecraft. Airgas and XCOR will also participate in joint marketing programs to promote XCOR propulsion systems and suborbital space launch services.