Cape Canaveral: Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams is stuck in space at least temporarily.

She flew up to the international space station in December 2006 planning to come home in early July 2007 after a seven-month stay. Her return now will be a bit later than planned.

The problem is that a hailstorm that damaged the fuel tank of the space shuttle Atlantis has disrupted NASA's flight schedule for the year. Her ticket home, space shuttle Endeavour, may get off the ground several weeks later than its scheduled June 28 launch.

So Ms. Williams who got a bit of attention for her accident with wasabi (spicy green plant used for cooking) which wound up on the walls of the space station may have to wait a little longer to go to her favourite sushi restaurant in Houston.

"We're doing things we can as best as we can to make her happy, and perhaps launch some special items that will make her more comfortable for that extended period of time," said Kirk Shireman, NASA's deputy manager of the space station programme. "Aside from that, there's not a whole lot that one can do."

Flight surgeon Dave Alexander said Ms. Williams' physical fitness, mental well-being and radiation exposure would be monitored carefully, but "right now, the predictions are Sunita can stay up for an extended period of time."