The International Space Station will wait a bit longer for its next visitors, as the next available attempt to launch Atlantis on the STS-101 mission will not occur before May 18. The tentative launch time that day would be about 6:30 a.m. Eastern Time.
In the meantime, flight dynamics experts will spend the next week determining whether the Stationís orbit needs to be adjusted to protect the phasing, or alignment, with the Shuttle at launch and during rendezvous. An orbit adjust burn, if required, using thrusters on the Zarya module will not occur before May 6 depending on the outcome of the trajectory analysis.
The ISS is in a safe orbit with no systems problems affecting its operation. Flight controllers in Houston and Moscow have resumed routine operations watching over systems and cycling onboard batteries, while awaiting the launch of Atlantis.
The current orbit of the ISS is 227 by 211 miles (365 x 339 kilometers). The average decay of the Stationís orbit is about 1½ miles per week. As of midday today, the ISS has circled the Earth more than 8,216 times since November 1998.
NOTE: The next Mission Control Center ISS Status Report regarding on-orbit activities will be issued Thursday, May 4. For further information, please contact the NASA Public Affairs Office at the Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, 281-483-5111.
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