Making sure that a technical document meets the needs of its intended audience is crucial to successfully facilitate the communication of concepts and ideas. In order to meet these needs, they must be clearly identified and specifically addressed. In the article “COLUMBIA ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD”, the audience’s identity, needs, personality, and expectations are all clearly defined and addressed. The first part of the article sets up and identifies both the audience and their needs.
The primary and secondary audiences are both defined in the following statement about the origin of the Board: “From its inception, the Board has considered itself an independent and public institution, accountable to the American public, the White House, Congress, the astronaut corps and their families, and NASA”. In declaring to whom they are accountable, the primary audience is clearly defined. The relationship that exists between the audiences can also be inferred from this statement. All of the people that were mentioned were affected in one way or another by the accident on February 1st.
The needs of these people defined the reason for creating the Board, as well as the purpose of the document. This purpose is described in the document by saying, “Our aim has been to improve Shuttle safety by multiple means, not just by correcting the specific faults that cost the nation this Orbiter and this crew. ” Another purpose is to investigate the causes of the accident and figure out the events that lead up to the accident. The intended use of the findings is to find ways to prevent a similar event from happening in the future.
In order to do this, additional information about the protocols and procedures established by NASA was required to serve the purpose of the document. This in turn raises the question, “How does NASA work? ”. This question is complicated because the technical background of the majority of the audience would be classified as non-technical. By having a large percentage of the audience classified as not having an extensive technical background, the findings of the Board must include enough explanation to accurately portray their findings.
One way that the document has overcome the non-technical background of its audience was by including several excerpts and definitions describing topics from the anatomy of a space shuttle to the locations of the major manufacturers that create all of the required pieces that enable NASA to get into outer space. The audience’s probable attitude and personality with respect to the Board and its findings are all addressed in the document. The attitude that the audience has is one of grief and distrust in both NASA and the Government.
This is made evident in the statement, “The loss of Columbia and her crew represents a turning point, calling for a renewed public policy debate and commitment regarding human space exploration. ” By stating that there is a need for renewed public policy regarding NASA’s missions, it is clear that the public opinion about NASA has been tarnished by the accident. They also have the probable objections that the Board was biased and that they do not have any effective results that could help reduce the risk that another accident like this will ever occur.
However, the likely attitude that the audiences will have toward the writer are that of hope for the future and America’s return to space. This is shown when the document states, “These recommendations reflect both the Board?s strong support for return to flight at the earliest date consistent with the overriding objective of safety”. They want the Board to succeed in finding ways to improve the safety for the other astronauts and their families.
The Board also wanted this, as demonstrated by the document, stating, “[The Board] sought to discover the conditions that produced this tragic outcome and to share those lessons in such a way that this nation’s space program will emerge stronger and more sure-footed”. The persons most affected by the findings of the document will be the families of astronauts that were killed in the accident. Also, NASA and the families of the current team of astronauts will be affected by the findings in the document.
Since the temperament of the audience is somber in light of the accident, the document must treat the subject matter with delicateness in order to mitigate the risk of alienating the audience. The Board does do a great job of respectfully identifying the causes of the Columbia accident, so the probable reaction of the audience to the document is that they will become more informed about the events that lead up to the accident. The audience’s expectations about the document will be very high considering the personal subject matter.
The reason the document originated was because of the loss of life in the Columbia accident. The audience will expect a very concise, respectful document that highlights the significance of the losses sustained by the families. An acceptable length of the report would be between six and ten pages, outlining only the material that is most important to the audience, which material includes the causes and results of the accident. The document is described as being “organized into four parts: The Accident, Why the Accident Occurred, A Look Ahead, and various appendices. The most useful arrangement to meet these expectations would be to list all the causes and their direct results. By having an informative and courteous tone, the intended effect on the audience will be achieved. The intended effect of the document is to restore faith in the NASA programs, both for the families of the victims and for the people of the United States. Because a restoration of faith in the program is necessary for the continuation of America’s space program, the results need to be published as soon as possible.
This was clearly demonstrated by the document stating, “The Columbia Accident Investigation Board was established within two hours of the loss of signal from the returning spacecraft. ” In conclusion, by defining the audience’s identity, personality, needs, and expectations, the writers of the article “COLUMBIA ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BOARD” were successfully able to meet all of the objectives of the document, which were to investigate the causes of the accident, find ways to prevent future accidents, and restore faith in NASA and America’s space programs.