Artemis I launch has been scrubbed after engine issue

NASA scrubbed a planned launch of its powerful rocket, a setback for the agency as it looks to reignite its lunar ambitions. NASA's uncrewed Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion capsule were slated to launch on a test flight to the moon, named Artemis I, but engine troubles thwarted the much-anticipated liftoff.

Engineers detected an issue with one of the fuel lines as the rocket was being loaded with propellant. A liquid hydrogen line used to cool the rocket's core-stage engines malfunctioned partway through the launch countdown, and the test flight was eventually called off after troubleshooting efforts failed.

The SLS rocket’s four core-stage engines need to be cooled to cryogenic temperatures prior to launch to avoid shocking the system with ultracold fuel when ignited.

Launch delays are not uncommon, particularly when it comes to testing a new rocket or spacecraft that will eventually carry humans. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said Monday that the agency will not go through with the test until the vehicle is ready.

NASA officials said the rocket and spacecraft are currently "in a stable, safe condition," adding that engineers will continue to gather data from the vehicle on the launch pad. The agency is expected to hold another briefing Tuesday to discuss initial findings from the investigation. Monday’s event was to be the first liftoff of the 322-foot-tall Space Launch System, a next-generation booster that NASA says is the “most powerful rocket in the world.” The test flight is designed to test both the huge SLS rocket and the Orion capsule before the agency sends astronauts back to the lunar surface.