NASA mission managers are discussing possible launch dates for the Space Shuttle Atlantis STS101 after three aborted launches due to bad weather. The crucial servicing mission to the International Space Station (ISS) could now be delayed until mid-May, NASA warns.

High winds at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, forced two launch delays on 24-25 April, while the third attempt was cancelled due to poor conditions at the emergency landing site in Morocco.

Atlantis was due to link to the ISS to replace and refurbish components on the Russian Zarya and US Unity modules.

It must also raise the station's orbit from 368 x 342km (229 x 213 miles) by as much as 30km, to position the ISS at the correct altitude to allow it to rendezvous with the next ISS component - the Russian Zvezda module. Meanwhile, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, electrical testing of Zvezda has been completed ahead of its launch by a Proton rocket in mid-July to dock with the ISS by the end of that month.

Source: Flight International