The U.S. space agency is being scrutinized for potential conflicts of interest related to its $1.9 billion Mars mission, including its decision to spend nearly $2 billion on a highly touted robotic rovers to carry out rovers’ core science, according the report released Wednesday by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
NASA, the committee said, also spent $3 million on “consultant” work for the mission’s launch and recovery.
The probe was supposed to launch in 2021 and arrive in 2020, but NASA has said it will wait to conduct that science until the next major launch window.
In a statement, NASA said it is not aware of any specific conflicts of interests.
“We are taking steps to ensure the integrity of our processes and ensure that the mission is conducted in an ethical manner,” the agency said.
“We will continue to provide the best science possible to the nation, and will continue working with Congress to ensure that this important mission is carried out safely,” it added.
During the probe’s first mission in 2021, the probe and two robotic rover missions were scheduled to launch together.
The probes launched atop Atlas V rockets.
NASA is still reviewing how those missions are being managed in the meantime, the subcommittee said.