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No adjustment to ISS orbit due to Atlantis launch postponement

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The orbit of the International Space Station will not be adjusted March 2 as planned, because the launch of the Atlantis space shuttle has been postponed, Russia's Mission Control said Wednesday.
MISSION CONTROL (near Moscow), February 28 (RIA Novosti) - The orbit of the International Space Station will not be adjusted March 2 as planned, because the launch of the Atlantis space shuttle has been postponed, Russia's Mission Control said Wednesday.

Corrections to the space station's orbit are conducted periodically before launches of Russian cargo ships and U.S. shuttles to compensate for Earth's gravity and to ensure successful dockings.

"There is no need now to adjust the ISS orbit, as it [the adjustment] was designed to coincide with the shuttle's arrival. The adjustment was to have been made at the request of our American colleagues, because shuttles have restrictions on orbit height," a Mission Control representative said.

In addition, he said, the 14th crew's plans will change, as instead of preparing for Atlantis' arrival, they will now conduct scientific experiments.

The current crew of the world's sole orbital station comprises U.S. astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, who arrived at the station September 20, and U.S. astronaut Sunita Williams, who replaced the European Space Agency's German astronaut Thomas Reiter in December 2006, and who will remain on the ISS for another several months.

"They will also be getting ready for the arrival of the Soyuz TMA-10 spaceship with the 15th ISS crew on board," the source said.

The next ISS expedition will comprise two Russian astronauts, Fyodor Yurchikhin and Oleg Kotov, and U.S. millionaire Charles Simonyi, who is set to fly to the ISS as a space tourist.

A Soyuz TMA-10 spacecraft with the 15th ISS crew will be launched April 7, 2007 from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, the Russian Space Agency said February 20.

Earlier, NASA's shuttle program manager, Wayne Hale, told a press conference at the Kennedy Space Center that the launch of the Atlantis, scheduled for March 15, could be postponed due to fuel tank damage caused by hail that hit the Florida-based space center Monday.

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