CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - For the third time in three days, high wind kept space shuttle Atlantis and its crew from flying to the aid of the International Space Station on Wednesday.
This time, however, the bad weather was more than 4,000 miles away at emergency landing sites in Morocco and Spain. That made the delay all the more frustrating, especially because the mission is off until at least next week - and possibly mid-May.
The next opening in the rocket lineup isn't until May 18. Unless something changes, that may well be Atlantis' next shot - whether NASA likes it or not.
Shuttle managers should have a new launch date by early next week, launch director Dave King said. One option is for Atlantis to take the place of a weather satellite launch Wednesday, but he said that hasn't been discussed yet.
NASA wants to get Atlantis and its crew of seven to the space station as soon as possible.
The 1 1/2-year-old station is slipping nearly two miles a week because of increased solar activity and the absence of Russia's long-delayed service module. Unless Atlantis gets there soon, flight controllers will have to use the limited supply of on-board fuel to move the station into a higher, safer orbit.