NASA'S biggest ever rocket isn't down and out just yet.
The Space Launch System (SLS) may still fly this week after a host of snags put the brakes on the lunar test yesterday.
The hotly anticipated Artemis 1 mission was due to liftoff on Monday, sending an uncrewed Orion capsule toward the Moon atop SLS.
However, the mission team at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida scrubbed the flight hours before launch after they encountered a problem with one of the engines.
Despite the setback, the rocket could soar into space for the first time as early as Friday, according to Nasa.
"Friday is definitely in play," Artemis mission manager Mike Sarafin said during a news conference on Monday.
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"We just need a little bit of time to look at the data. But the team is setting up for a 96-hour recycle."
The Artemis 1 mission is designed to test the SLS system ahead of a crewed launch to the Moon in 2024.
Once the rocket has reached Earth's orbit, the Orion capsule will detach and perform a loop of Earth's rocky satellite.
Orion will be carrying scientific instruments and sensors to collect data about the flight.
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It is hoped that SLS will one day be used on missions to Mars and beyond.
Monday's scrub was the result of an issue with one of the four RS-25 engines in the SLS' core stage.
The engine's cooling system failed during countdown, forcing Nasa to push back the launch to a later date.
Prior to that, the launch had been pushed back following stormy conditions and a leak that was later determined to be mild enough to go ahead with the flight safely.
Currently, the space agency has set September 2 or September 5 as the two most likely dates for a retry.
In the meantime, Nasa engineers are working round-the-clock to troubleshoot the issue that grounded the spacecraft.
the initial analyses have returned some good news.
"Right now, the indications don't point to an engine problem," Sarafin said.
"It's in the 'bleed' system that thermally conditions the engines" with super-chilled propellant, he added.
Nasa Administrator Bill Nelson has stressed the importance of getting the unmanned test right and not launching until it is.
He said on Monday: "We don't launch until it's right."
US Astronaut Stan Love admitted that Nasa still doesn't quite know what the problem was.
Love added: "We're going to have to take a death breath and wait for another opportunity."
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According to Flordia Today, up to 500,000 went to Cape Canaveral in Florida in an attempt to watch the launch on Monday.
Those spectators may have to wait eight weeks to watch the flight if Nasa misses its two early September dates.
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