NASA Awards $485M Mars Project Delayed by Conflict of Interest

NASA chose a University of Colorado proposal for a $485 million Mars mission on Monday after a nine-month delay caused by a conflict of interest in the selection process. The delay cost the space agency time, money and science.
The price of the probe increased by $10 million, its launch was postponed by two years, and the science-gathering mission will be cut in half to one year, an official said. NASA chose the University of Colorado’s proposal to study the Martian atmosphere from 20 other ideas to study Mars that were trimmed to just two before a conflict of interest was declared.
NASA has not disclosed what the conflict of interest was or who it involved, other than to say last year that it was not created by NASA but by one of the two groups. The space agency said last December that a “serious” conflict of interest in one of two proposals forced it to disband the board formed to pick the winner, and create a new panel to award the contract.