COVID surge causes liquid oxygen problems for SpaceX, water utilities

COVID surge causes liquid oxygen problems for SpaceX, water utilities


A liquid oxygen tank parked outside a field hospital in New York in April, 2020 | Photo by BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images

Demand for oxygen to treat COVID-19 patients is spiking during the latest pandemic surge, leaving liquid oxygen in short supply for other uses, including water purification and rocket launches. As supplies get redirected to hospitals, other industries are scrambling to figure out alternatives.

“We’re actually going to be impacted this year with the lack of liquid oxygen for launch,” Gwynne Shotwell, president of SpaceX, said earlier this week. “We certainly are going to make sure the hospitals are going to have the oxygen that they need, but for anybody who has liquid oxygen to spare, send me an email.”

While oxygen is extremely common in the atmosphere, hospitals need high…

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