Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Space Travel News  

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

US Astronaut Charged With Attempted Murder Of Love Rival

Astronaut Lisa Nowak appears before judge Mike Murphy at an Orlando Corrections facility in February 6, 2007 in Orlando, Florida. Nowak was charged with attempted first-degree murder after allegedly confronting Colleen Shipman, a U.S. Air Force captain who she believed to be dating a fellow astronaut, Navy Cmdr. Bill Oefelein, who Nowak was also involved with. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Randy Nieves Ruiz
Miami (AFP) Feb 06, 2007
A NASA astronaut who flew on the shuttle Discovery last July was charged with attempted murder Tuesday after driving cross-country to attack a woman she believed a rival for the affections of a fellow astronaut, police said. Lisa Nowak, 43, a US Navy captain and a married mother of three, faces a maximum life prison sentence if convicted of the attempted first degree murder and kidnapping charges lodged against her in Orlando, Florida.

Wearing adult diapers to avoid stopping, Nowak drove over 1,500 kilometers (900 miles) from Houston, Texas to the Orlando airport where she attacked Colleen Shipman -- who herself had just flown in from Houston -- with pepper spray over Shipman's relationship to a space shuttle pilot, Bill Oefelein, according to police reports.

Nowak was arrested early Monday morning at the Orlando airport after she had accosted Shipman while disguised in a wig and a trench coat. Ppolice affadavits said she had with her a bag of weapons including a new steel mallet, a new serrated knife and a loaded pellet gun.

"We believe it was a planned event," Sergeant Barbara Jones of the Orlando Police Department told Fox News.

After being arraigned first on the kidnapping charge and then later on the murder charge, Nowak was released Tuesday on 25,500 dollars bail under the condition she wear an electronic tracking device and avoid Shipman.

"The facts that Mrs. Nowak drove approximately 900 miles, urinated in diapers so that she did not need to stop, stayed at a hotel where she paid cash and used a false name and address to register, stealthily followed the victim, while in disguise, and possessed multiple deadly weapons at the time she confronted the victim ... give this investigator probable cause to believe that Mrs. Nowak intended to murder Ms. Shipman," investigating officer William Becton, said in an affidavit.

The bizarre case brought focus on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which runs the space shuttle program. In a statement, Michael Coats, director of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, where Nowak and her husband both work, said, "We are deeply saddened by this tragic event. "The charges against Lisa Nowak are serious ones that must be decided by the judicial system. She is officially on 30-day leave and has been removed from flight status and all mission-related activities."

According to the police report, shortly after 3:00 am Monday Nowak approached Shipman in her car at the Orlando International Airport car park and asked to use her cell phone.

Shipman refused, but then "rolled her window down about two inches, so Mrs. Nowak could hear her ... Mrs. Nowak sprayed some type of chemical spray into the vehicle, at Ms. Shipman's face," the report read.

Shipman told police the spray burned her eyes and that she sped off and called for help, the report said. Police arrived and arrested Nowak after she was identified by Shipman.

Nowak told police she planned only to "scare" Shipman into talking about her relationship with Oefelein, and had no intention of harming her, according to a police affidavit.

Prosecutor Amanda Cowan asked the judge to "set aside" the fact that the defendant was an astronaut and an active duty naval officer and refuse bail. "Murder was a plan."

But defense attorney Donald Lykkebak objected to the murder charge and called his client "a desperate woman" who made a "mistake."

A navy officer since 1987, Nowak trained for two years as an astronaut at the Johnson Space Center from 1996.

She worked in Mission Control as prime communicator with orbiting crews and flew as mission specialist on the shuttle Discovery's July 4-17 mission to the International Space Station.

Oefelein, Nowak's colleague at the Johnson Space Center, served as pilot on the Discovery's December 9-22, 2006 mission to the ISS.

His NASA biography says he has two children but does not list his marital status.

However, legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, told CNN's Larry King that Oefelein is divorced.

Nowak told police that she was "involved in a relationship" with Oefelein, which she categorized as "more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship," the affidavit said.

A letter found in her possession "indicated how much Mrs. Nowak loved Mr. Oelfelein," it said.

Nowak's family in Rockville, Maryland said in a statement to CNN that she had separated from her husband several weeks ago after 19 years of marriage.

"Lisa is an extremely dedicated and caring mother to her three children.... These alleged events are completely out of character and have come as a tremendous shock to our family."

Nowak's immediate NASA supervisor, Steve Lindsey, appeared at the first court hearing to offer his support. "We're a close family (at NASA) and we try to take care of our own," said on CNN.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Related Links
News About Space Exploration Programs
Space Shuttle News at Space-Travel.Com
Space Tourism, Space Transport and Space Exploration News

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Moonstruck Astronaut Returns Home After Murder Attempt Charge
Houston (AFP) Feb 07, 2007
A US astronaut charged with attempting to murder a woman she thought was a rival for the affections of a space shuttle pilot returned home Wednesday after her bizarre odyssey landed her in jail. US television images showed Lisa Nowak, 43, covering her face with a jacket as she alighted from an airplane at an airport in Houston, Texas, returning from Florida after a court released her on 25,500-dollar bail.

  • SpaceDev Conducts Hot-Fire Test Of Hybrid Upper Stage Rocket Motor
  • Lockheed Martin Readies For Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle At Kennedy Space Center
  • Test Flights Of Angara Boosters To Start In 2010
  • Researchers Create New Class Of Compounds

  • Sea Launch Zenit Explodes On Pad
  • Sea Launch Operations To Be Resumed Despite Liftoff Failure
  • SpaceWorks Engineering Releases Study On Emerging Commercial Transport Services To ISS
  • JOULE II Launches With Success At Poker Flat

  • Shuttle Atlantis Processing Picks Up The Pace
  • Space Shuttle Launch Rescheduled

  • ISS Crew Conduct Back To Back Spacewalks Over Several Days
  • Activity Filled Schedule Keeps Astronauts Busy On Space Station
  • Astronauts For Shuttle Japanese Experiment Module Kibo Mission Assigned
  • US Astronauts To Conduct Three Spacewalks By February 8

  • Astronauts' Image Falls Back To Earth In Love Triangle Case
  • US Astronaut Charged With Attempted Murder Of Love Rival
  • NASA To Review Screening Process Amid Love-Triangle Case
  • Moonstruck Astronaut Returns Home After Murder Attempt Charge

  • Baker's Dozen Via For Chinese Lunar Rover Design
  • China Holds Firm On Space Test As US Reviews Options
  • China To Launch New Series Of Oceanic Survey Satellites
  • Japan's Abe Charges China Satellite Test Illegal

  • Scientists Study Adhesive Capabilities Of Geckos To Develop Surveillance Or Inspection Robots
  • Japanese Women To Try Lipstick With Touch Of Button
  • First Soft-Bodied Robots Planned
  • Singapore Launches Contest To Build 'Urban Warrior' Robots

  • Opportunity Passes Ten Kilometer Mark
  • Mars Express Camera Now In Its Third Year
  • Spirit Examines Churned-Up Martian Soil
  • Looking For Microbial Martians

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright Space.TV Corporation. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space.TV Corp on any Web page published or hosted by Space.TV Corp. Privacy Statement