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Space Shuttle Astronaut Arrested on Kidnapping and battery charges

070206_nowak.jpg
Lisa Marie Nowak (NASA portrait) William A. Oefelein (NASA portrait)
colleenshipman_psu.jpg
Capt. Colleen Shipman (courtesy Penn State Alumni Association)


Lisa Marie Nowak is a NASA space shuttle astronaut,or should I say was a NASA space shuttle astronaut since she will lose her job that children dream of after being arrested for attempted kidnapping and battery:

A NASA astronaut faces her first appearance before a judge this morning after police say she attacked her rival for another astronaut's attention at Orlando International Airport Monday.


Lisa Marie Nowak drove more than 12 hours from Texas to meet the 1 a.m. flight of a younger woman who had also been seeing the astronaut Nowak pined for, according to Orlando police. She is being held on no bond at Orange County Jail and has a court appearance at 9 a.m.

Nowak -- who was a mission specialist on a Space Shuttle Discovery flight last summer -- was wearing a trench coat and wig and had a knife, BB pistol, and latex gloves in her car, reports show. They also found diapers, which Nowak said she used so she wouldn't have to stop on the 1,000-mile drive. Reports show that after U.S. Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman's flight arrived, Nowak followed her to the airport's Blue Lot for long-term parking, tried to get into Shipman's car and then doused her with pepper spray.

Nowak, 43, is charged with attempted kidnapping, battery, attempted vehicle burglary with battery and destruction of evidence. Police considered her such a danger that they requested she be held without bail in the Orange County Jail, reports show.

Here are the specifics on her status:

"Her status as an astronaut with NASA is currently unchanged. I cannot speculate on what might happen beyond that," said James Hartsfield, a NASA spokesman at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, where Nowak and Oefelein work.


Nowak's biography shows she is a 1985 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis with a degree in aerospace engineering, and a former test pilot who has logged more than 1,500 hours of flight in at least 30 types of aircraft.

She joined the space program in 1996. Three members of her astronaut class died in the 2003 shuttle Columbia disaster.

A Navy captain, Nowak flew aboard last summer's 12-day flight to re-supply the International Space Station and test safety features and repair techniques.

"A lot of my training is what you might think of as a Flight Engineer on ascent and entry," she said in a pre-flight interview on the NASA Web site. "I sit behind and between the pilot and commander and help coordinate things and keep the big picture."

And she is throwing it all a way over a guy. Ok, not just any guy:

A Navy commander, Oefelein is a former test pilot who attended TOPGUN, the U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School. He has flown more 3,000 hours in more than 50 types of aircraft, including over 200 carrier landings, according to NASA.

She's so intelligent, talented, and skilled yet she allows jealousy to take over and destroy everything in her life.

Update: Nowak hasn't been fired yet. Her status is unchanged. I have a hard time believing that it won't change in the near future.

The people at NASA are "baffled. I bet they are. This is not the behavior one expects from someone who can make it through the NASA training program. I can't imagine NASA allows anyone in space without a psychological exam, which she must have passed.

Update II: Dr. Sanity used to be a psychological consultant for NASA and offers some great insight into the "superstar" culture that NASA promotes regarding their astronauts:

[I]f you treat astronauts like Hollywood superstars; promote them to the public as if they were God's gift to humanity; cater to their narcissistic fantasies; and indulge them in all sorts of special ways, it is not too hard to predict that they will behave just like any other entitled superstar (or politician) whose ridiculous exploits the public follows with obsessive interest.


Why bother to go to the trouble of choosing "the right stuff" in the first place when the superstar culture of the astronauts only encourages the worst sort of narcissism and sociopathy? Even if an astronaut didn't have an iota of such psychopathology before they their selection as an astronaut, they are at extremely high risk in the toxic NASA culture of developing it. (see here for a discussion of "acquired narcissism").

The NASA celebrity culture--like the Washington political culture and the west-coast Hollywood culture--creates these monsters by the uncritical adoration and reverence they give to anyone with a certain job description. Is it shocking therefore that astronauts, politicians, and moviestars behave like the demigods they have been convinced they are? NASA has just had a wake-up call. The powers that be at NASA have always known that astronauts are only human, but over the years they have managed to keep all the bad behavior out of the spotlight and pretend that there is only the good.

Very interesting and sad.

Update III: Speaking of sad, there's the booking photo...

nowak-booking.jpg

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Comments (23)

While this is certainly spe... (Below threshold)
Alan:

While this is certainly spectacular, even in the earliest days there were things which did not quite fit the desired picture. One of the things which the old Astronaut Office did was smooth over "Astro-naughties."

Should have learned from a ... (Below threshold)
Old Coot:

Should have learned from a former president; Slick Willy had an entire staff devoted to protecting him from "bimbo eruptions". But hey, that kind of stuff really doesn't matter if you are a liberal, right?

I group up in Clear ... (Below threshold)
Bill Cook:


I group up in Clear Lake. My mother worked on the shuttle program. So did the parents of most of my freinds. I went to school with the Astronauts' kids, and dated one for a short time. I knew quite a few astronauts.

Dr. Sanity's description of the astronaut culture is completely foreign to me. He sounds like a bitter ex-NASA employee, frankly. The people he is describing may exist, but I never met any of them.

Having grown up with the program, this news story is truly baffling, and Dr Sanity's opinions do nothing to clear the air.

Now this give a new meaning... (Below threshold)
Codakan:

Now this give a new meaning to the MILE-HIGH CLUB

KimWhen are... (Below threshold)
aRepukelican:

Kim

When are you going to retract your fraudulent Pelosi/military aircraft story?????

Once again, your favorite Republican Sphincter news agencies, the Washington Times and Fox, in this case the Wash. Times, are found to be nothing more than a Republican sphincter feeding RWB's w/ distortions that fools like you love to rebroadcast w/ no concern to facts.

Breaking News from Fox &... (Below threshold)
aRepukelican:

Breaking News from Fox & the Washington Times

Nowak was actually on a top secret mission,per Pelosi's instructions, to secure Pelosi & family regularly scheduled flights on the shuttle to California due to the fact that standard military transport wastes too much time.

Kim, how did you miss this Pelosi story????

This puke guy is just plain... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

This puke guy is just plain NUTS. ww

Another product of the femi... (Below threshold)
Captain Joe:

Another product of the feminine Naval Academy. Women are not treated the same as the men there. It's a lot different than when I attended in the early sixties. Mixed sexes in the cockpit and the space shuttle. Another stylish decision by our no-nuts government. Dirty Harry would love it.

sad? i think it's freaking ... (Below threshold)
suka:

sad? i think it's freaking hilarious!!!!!

Newmark's a witless chit: ... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

Newmark's a witless chit: "If women are going to claim that they bring special gender-based skills to politics, men can start claiming that they, too, have particular strengths as leaders." (burp)(cough!) HELLO! LIBBY TRIAL!, Oversight hearing on the missing 1/2 BILLION in Iraq! As we speak! W needs his Flying Monkey Squadrons to scramble! Get out of the rack! Out of the rack!

I agree with Bill's assessm... (Below threshold)
J.R.:

I agree with Bill's assessment of this Dr. Sanity. Maybe when the astronaut program first began they were treated like celebrities, but hardly anymore. I couldn't name 2 astronauts off the cuff. His analysis is pure bunk. I wouldn't even use that tripe to describe folks in Hollywood.

This lady just got jealous, insanely jealous. And I doubt it had anything to do with her treatment as an astronaut.

Now off topic:

To the idiot posting as aRepukelican

Kim

When are you going to retract your fraudulent Pelosi/military aircraft story?????

Yes, she made a post about it, but it wasn't her story you ass. Send an email to the Washington Times. Send an email to Kim, but stop trying to derail other comment threads.

Romantic passion can be suc... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Romantic passion can be such an overwhelmingly powerful emotion that it can put an otherwise rational mind into stupid mode quicker than spit freezes in -40 below air. In stupid mode people kill and commit every other known crime as they seek a relationship with the target of their passion. No group is immune; not politicians, not priests, not doctors, and not astronauts. What makes it news worthy is the surprise people feel when they find out such highly educated, trained, and trusted people suffer from the same failings as the rest of us.

To teach Captain Nowak what it's like to be the object of unwanted attention, or just for punishment in general, I would make her go on dates with nerds starting with me. There's no need for jail time and if the alleged victim complains that the punishment is insufficient, then I would make her date me as well.

Read this woman's bio...she... (Below threshold)
CharlieDontSurf:

Read this woman's bio...she's into "rubber stamps", rubber stamps?!? that should have been a red flag to NASA. Now NASA has it's own Tonya Harding.

Methinks She does not take ... (Below threshold)
914:

Methinks She does not take gravitation lightly.

[I]f you treat astronau... (Below threshold)
marc:

[I]f you treat astronauts like Hollywood superstars; promote them to the public as if they were God's gift to humanity;

Sound familar?

It should, it's the same reason MLB, NBA and the NFL has so many petty crooks, wife beaters, drug addicts and gun toters in their midst.

NotAble toScr... (Below threshold)
bill:

Not
Able to
Screen
Applicants

cmon...astronauts are a dif... (Below threshold)
VagaBond:

cmon...astronauts are a different breed but still human. same with celebrities. and sports stars. ad infinitum.

Very creative [email protected] 02:56pm... (Below threshold)
914:

Very creative [email protected] 02:56pm

How about

Not
Above
Sexual
Aberrations

She was just on a mission t... (Below threshold)
Bill:

She was just on a mission to check out space nappies (the Depends 900 mile version.)

Must be something in the rocket exhaust fumes that makes you go batsh*t crazy.

I think Dr. Sanity is eithe... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

I think Dr. Sanity is either lying about his affiliation with NASA or hasn't been in touch with the program for over 30 years. At a minimum it's obvious he holds some sort of grudge against them--almost like he is about to snap himself.

NASA doesn't create "psychotic superstars" who go around stalking others. This was an individual who chose to do this on her own. Laying this on NASA is just, well stupid.

If anything, the job is such a high pressure one I can see that they might be under so pressure that when they snap they really snap, but this has nothing to do with "superstar" mentality. If anything, a majority of NASA scientists feel the manned space operations are a waste of money and resources and far more should be done with robotic missions.

Dr Sanity is way off base here.

Dr. Sanity was a Psychologi... (Below threshold)
John:

Dr. Sanity was a Psychologist for NASA?

Can you imagine the daily editorial meeting at The Onion?

"So... There's this Sanity guy, but it's a true story. What do you guys have better?"

"Aw.... We got nothin..."

This astronut should have s... (Below threshold)
T-Bird:

This astronut should have stop at Moody AFB and got pointers from Jill Metzger on how to beat the rap before progressing further.
Just can't get any better! Their flight suit zipper is multidirectional.


About Pelosi:

She got another patsy to cover her ass! Not a bad play!

Dr. Sanity's comments are p... (Below threshold)
epador:

Dr. Sanity's comments are pure fiction. While it is absolutely true that the stereotype fast-mover pilot has the social maturity of a pre-teen, these folks are screened before and regularly medically and psychologically. There's always some determined nut-case who manages to bluff their way around a while, but once exposed, they loose their flight status UNLESS they have really good connections or a very lazy flight surgeon.

I'm willing to bet this woman might have managed to get by so long by either political connections, or by the promotion factor - when folks are so determined to get rid of someone they get them promoted and off to a new assignment. Much easier than actually punishing them for their crimes. It happens more often than you might believe, and I believe it easily explains the fact that its not just cream that rises to the top in the military.




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