NASA is discussing International Space Station (ISS) scheduling conflicts with the Russian Federal Space Agency because the US agency's mission managers have decided to roll back Atlantis and that will see its launch delayed till next week, which means the shuttle could still be docked to the ISS, on its 11-day STS-115 mission, when a manned Soyuz vehicle is planned to arrive there.
At a midmorning briefing, local time today, the NASA mission manager's announced that rollback preparations are proceeding to ensure Space Shuttle Atlantis would be safely back in the vehicle assembly building (VAB) before the effects from tropical storm Ernesto would be felt at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC).
At the briefing shuttle weather officer Kathy Winters explained that KSC could expect tropical storm force winds Wednesday morning, local time, and hurricane force winds by 1700EDT (2100GMT) if Ernesto's current track and strength holds.
"We'd like to get off the pad tomorrow morning if at all possible," says NASA launch director Mike Leinbach, "based on tomorrow afternoon's local weather, we'd much rather be back in the VAB earlier rather than later."
Once rolled back to the VAB this time Atlantis will need eight days of launch preparations once it is returned to launch pad 39B, giving a possible launch date of 7 September or later. The launch window extends to 13 September but NASA needs a 7 September lift off to avoid the scheduling conflict with the Soyuz vehicle also bound for the ISS.
The Soyuz is to launch on 18 September and would reach the ISS on the following day. Atlantis has an 11-day mission planned and would undock from the ISS on the tenth day, which would be the same day as the Soyuz's arrival if Atlantis were to launch on 9 September.
Above: Atlantis is rolled by the mobile transporter with launch pad 39B behind