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Cargo craft fails to undock from Mir

An unmanned cargo craft failed to undock from Russia's troubled Mir space station Monday to make room for a new freighter, Mission Control said.

A spokeswoman for Mission Control in the town of Korolyov, outside Moscow, said by telephone that the locks fastening the Progress M-35 to Mir failed to open, but another attempt to undock the two craft would be made.The cargo ship is due to burn up in the atmosphere after uncoupling from Mir.

The new freighter, the Progress M-36, was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Sunday and was due to dock automatically with Mir Tuesday.

Its cargo includes fuel, oxygen, water and scientific equipment for the three-man Russian-U.S. crew.

Mir has been plagued by a series of mishaps since a collision with a cargo ship June 25, its worst accident in 11 years in orbit. The mishaps have raised questions about Mir's future and U.S. cooperation with the Russians in space.

Meanwhile, NASA Sunday delayed by one day the landing of the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis, which had delivered a replacement for British-born NASA astronaut Michael Foale, fresh supplies, a new computer and equipment for the repairs of Mir last week.

The delay was caused by bad weather at the shuttle's Florida landing strip. The landing was due for 5:55 p.m. EDT Monday.

The conditions were good enough for an unmanned rocket to take off with a communication satellite, but the clouds over Cape Canaveral along with darkness prompted controllers to scratch the landing.

Similar weather was forecast for Monday. As a result, NASA activated Edwards Air Force Base in California, the backup landing site, where gusty wind could pose a problem.

If Atlantis lands as scheduled, Foale will have been in orbit for 145 days, longer than any U.S. astronaut besides Shannon Lucid, who finished a 188-day Mir mission last year.

Foale was eager to reunite with his wife and two young children and to chow on lasagna and pizza.

"Ian hasn't been crying for Daddy because he can see my excitement and he knows he's coming home," Rhonda Foale said before the landing was delayed, referring to the couple's 3-year-old son.