28 October 2003: NASA's Hushed Debate, editorial, Washington Post
5 November 2003: An Open Debate at NASA, Letter to the Editor, Sean O'Keefe, Washington Post
"Instead of treating this as evidence of open communications, The Post treated the episode as though it were a "leaked" memo. But there was nothing "hushed" about the debate. The Post didn't need to conduct an investigation, it just needed to listen."
28 October 2003: NASA chief takes media to task, The Times Picayune
"O'Keefe criticized journalists for greatly curtailing their coverage of the debris-recovery effort after attention turned to the work of the federal investigative board in the weeks after the tragedy."
Editor's note: The article goes on to say "The orbiter disintegrated Feb. 1 over eastern Texas, killing the seven astronauts aboard, as it returned to Earth after a two-week trip to the space station. An investigative board appointed by President Bush conducted a seven-month inquiry into the accident ..." This article is about press inaccuracies and biases - and yet the reporter himself has a crucial fact wrong! Columbia did NOT visit the space station! Moreover the investigative board (CAIB) was NOT appointed by the President. More sloppy reporting!
25 October 2003: Columbia Accident Investigation Board To Release Vols. II-VI of Final Report, CAIB
28 October 2003: Panel: Different design might have enabled Columbia crew to survive, USA Today
"The crew of space shuttle Columbia might have survived if the cabin had been designed differently, according to documents released Tuesday by the independent panel that investigated the accident."
28 October 2003: Reports Detail a Hypothetical Shuttle Rescue, NY Times
"A pair of spacewalking astronauts could have climbed out of the Columbia's air hatch and inspected its damaged left wing if one of them had used the other as a ladder, according to documents released on Tuesday by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board."
16 October 2003: Agency-wide CAIB Stand-down at NASA
Editor's note: From an internal NASA memo from a NASA field center:
"Administrator O'Keefe has instructed all Centers to address issues raised by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) report and to address cultural issues identified by an independent team headed by Al Diaz. Mr. Bridges is responding to O'Keefe's instructions by standing down the Center for the entire week of 17-21 November. Stand-down applies to contractors as well as civil servants. During that week all employees will be asked to study the CAIB report and the Diaz report. I suspect there will be other structured activities during that week as well."
4 October 2003: Former NASA advisers on safety answer critics, Orlando Sentinel
4 October 2003: NASA Panel's Ex-Members Fault Shuttle Funding, Washington Post
"Rather than committing to an adequate budget for the space shuttle, NASA and its congressional allies found it easier to get rid of those raising the alarm," the former panel members said in a statement provided to The Washington Post."
1 October 2003: "Getting It" at NASA, Keith Cowing
"This experience is why so many people who interact with NASA still have their suspicions. If people at NASA are not going to answer questions put to them by the public in response to a formal notice published in the public record - then they shouldn't put their email address and phone number in the notice in the first place. On the other hand, this incident also serves to demonstrate a marked and positive change in the way NASA PAO does things. Folks in PAO seem to "get it" to borrow Sean O'Keefe's phrase. Others still do not."
1 October 2003: NASA Lessons Learned: Space Shuttle & International Space Station/Inadequate Budget Levels
"The current and proposed budgets are not sufficient to improve or even maintain the safety risk level of operating the Space Shuttle and ISS. Needed restorations and improvements cannot be accomplished under current budgets and spending priorities."
"As reported last year, long-term projections are still suggesting increasing cannibalization rates, increasing component repair turnaround times, and loss of repair capability for the Space Shuttle logistics programs. If the present trend is not arrested, support difficulties may arise in the next 3 or 4 years."
"The KSC facilities, ground support equipment, and test and checkout gear to support Space Shuttle processing and launch operations continue to age. The status of the potential readiness of these essential assets has been projected, but there is no detailed, funded plan to ensure that this aging infrastructure can safely support the Space Shuttle for its likely operational life."
"The space Shuttle system presently includes an autoland system that provides automated guidance capable of navigating the orbiter to the selected landing runway."
"NASA's recent hiring of inexperienced personnel, along with continuing shortages of experienced, highly-skilled workers, has produced the challenge of training and integrating employees into organizations that are highly pressured by the expanded Space Shuttle flight rates associated with the ISS. There is no systematic effort to capture the knowledge of experienced personnel before they leave. Stress levels within the workforce are a continuing concern."
"The combined effect of workforce downsizing, the recent hiring freeze, and the Shuttle Processing contract (SPC) transition, especially at KSC, has raised the possibility that NASA senior managers in the future will lack the necessary hands-on technical knowledge and in-line experience to provide effective insight of operations."
"Space Shuttle processing workload is sufficiently high that it is unrealistic to depend on the current staff to support higher flight rates and simultaneously develop productivity improvements to compensate for reduced head counts. NASA and Shuttle Processing Contract (SPC) cannot depend solely on improved productivity to meet increasing launch demands."
1 October 2003: Space Shuttle Independent Oversight Act of 2003 (Full Text)
1 October 2003: Rep. Hall Introduces Legislation on Oversight of Shuttle Safety
"Congressman Ralph M. Hall (D-TX) today introduced the "Space Shuttle Independent Oversight Act of 2003", legislation that authorizes the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering to establish an independent committee to oversee NASA's implementation of the recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Chairman of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee, and Congressman Bart Gordon (D-TN), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, joined Mr. Hall as original co-sponsors."
2 October 2003: Lawmaker proposes watchdogs for NASA, Orlando Sentinel
"NASA spokesman Robert Mirelson said agency officials haven't seen Hall's legislation and would not comment on it. But the agency welcomes additional oversight and the opportunity to work with Congress, he said."