The launch of NASA's new Landsat 9 satellite has been delayed by a liquid nitrogen shortage

NASA's Landsat 9 Earth-observation satellite has been secured in its payload fairing. It will be launched into orbit on September 20, 21 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, which is being launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
CAPE CANAVERAL (Florida) NASA's next Earth-observing Landsat satellite is being delayed by a shortage in liquid nitrogen. This space agency announced.

NASA and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) jointly launched the Landsat 9 satellite. It was initially scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California's Space Launch Complex 3. The liftoff was pushed back to Sept. 23.

This is due to a global shortage of liquid oxygen. Liquid oxygen is a critical component of rocket fuel due to its vital role in the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic. Liquid oxygen can be used to oxidize any fuel that a rocket uses. Landsat 9 will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that uses RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) as propellant.

NASA released a statement saying that "current pandemic demand for medical liquid oxygen has impacted the delivery to Vandenberg of the liquid nitrogen supply by the Defense Logistics Agency, (DLA), and its supplier Airgas."

Photos: NASA's Advanced Landsat 8 Earth-Watching Satellite

NASA officials claim that it has its own liquid oxygen supplier, which covers missions launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It also supplies liquid oxygen to United Launch Alliance missions; SpaceX provides its liquid oxygen.

As of right now, the agency has sufficient liquid oxygen supplies to ensure that any launches currently on the manifest for this year will not be affected by the shortage. This could change depending upon the needs of the medical community.

Launches from Vandenberg can be a different story. As you can see from the Landsat delay there is an issue with liquid nitrogen.

This is because the company that supplies liquid nitrogen is also assisting in the delivery of liquid oxygen loads to hospitals. There are no drivers to make Vandenberg deliveries.

Airgas converts liquid nitrogen into gaseous nitrogen for launch vehicle testing and counting sequences. NASA stated in a statement that DLA and Airgas have now taken steps to increase Vandenberg's liquid nitrogen supply.

Landsat 9's mission

The $885 million Landsat 9 mission, which will be its ninth, will be, as the name implies, the ninth in the Landsat programme. It will continue to monitor and manage land resources such as crops, water, and forests.

Since 1972, Landsat satellites are an invaluable resource for scientists.

"I like to think Landsat is something like a Swiss Army knife out of one simple set of measurements or observations, we feed many different science applications," Jeff Masek, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, said in a Tuesday prelaunch briefing.

Landsat 9 will replace Landasat 7, which has been orbiting since 1999. It will also work in tandem to Landsat 8, which launched in 2013. Every eight days, the Landsat 8/9 pair will take images of Earth. Two different scientific instruments are carried by them that can analyze the light reflected from Earth in different wavelengths. This will allow them to detect the smallest changes in water, rivers, and forests around the globe.

Follow Amy Thompson @astrogingersnap. Follow us on Facebook @Spacedotcom and Twitter @astrogingersnap