There is a discussion of a computer program called “Crater”, written specifically to simulate debris hitting the shuttle.
What did Boeing do? They discounted it. The story suggests the data was passed along to NASA, which also discounted it.
This AP story summarizes the debates within NASA’s engineering community. Here’s something I see as a relevant quote.
I’m not sure what’s going on here. Either NASA’s top guns are lying about there level of awareness of the serious nature of the problem, or NASA’s culture is scarily effecient at quashing safety concern going up the line.
Here’s another bit from the Times story which in my mind represents nothing but a CYA spin by Riger Dittmore: