Editor's 31 August update: Well, the Houston Chronicle printed Mike Coats' letter. But they also altered their OpEd and removed the comment about the non-NASA accident. Curiously, they did not have the journalistic honesty to admit to their readers that they made a mistake in the first place.
Curiously, these inept students of spaceflight history at the Houston Chronicle still do not get it. They state "... after hundreds of space shuttle flights". Um, "hundreds" would mean multiple hundred i.e. at least more than 200. NASA is nowhere close to mounting "hundreds of space shuttle flights". Nor will it ever do so.
Falling objects - NASA's rash of problems threatens to erode public confidence in the space program, editorial, Houston Chronicle
"This year NASA has suffered: .... An explosion at a rocket motor test sight near Edwards Air Force Base in California killed two persons and critically injured four others."
Editor's 26 August note: This unfortunate accident and loss of life had nothing to do with NASA. I am not certain why the sloppy editorial staff at the Chronicle stuffed it in here. The net result is to use someone else's tragedy to make a cheap editorial point. As for the other items raised in this piece, they don't speak well of the intelligence or research credibility of the Houston Chronicle. Oh yes - just what is a "rocket motor test sight"? Do they mean test "site"? These folks at the Chronicle certainly don't have space lingo down - an odd thing for a newspaper that counts the home of NASA's human space flight programs among its home turf - and has done so for decades.
Editor's update: The following is the full text of NASA JSC Center Director Mike Coats' response to Sunday's Houston Chronicle op/ed provided to NASA Watch and SpaceRef by NASA JSC PAO:
"Sunday's Houston Chronicle (Falling Objects) presented an unbalanced and biased portrayal of NASA and the thousands of people working in our space program whose technological achievements have been a major contributor to the robust economy we enjoy and largely take for granted. I must take this opportunity to correct the misleading and inaccurate information portrayed as fact: The rocket engine explosion that killed two people in California involved a private company unrelated to NASA operating at a facility miles away from the Edwards Air Force Base. The "facts" in the editorial are completely in error.