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Tue, Feb 06, 2007

Murder Added To List Of Charges For Nowak

Latest Development Halts NASA Astronaut's Bail Release

ANN REALTIME REPORTING 02.06.07 14:00 EST: Orlando police have halted NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak's release on bail as prosecutors prepare to add the charge of attempted first-degree murder to those brought Tuesday morning in an Orlando courtroom.

The judge in the case had set Nowak's bail at $15,500, while ordering her to stay away from victim Colleen Shipman and wear a satellite tracking device.

City jail spokesman Allen Moore told Reuters, "There will be no release today. The Orlando police are filing additional charges of attempted first-degree murder."

Chief astronaut Steve Lindsey and fellow astronaut Chris Ferguson attended the hearing in Orlando this morning. "Our primary concern is her health and well-being and that she get through this," Lindsey told reporters afterward. "Her status (with the astronaut corps) has not changed."

ANN will report details on this strange case as they become available.


NASA astronaut and robotics specialist Lisa Nowak (right) was arrested Monday  in Orlando, FL on charges of attempted kidnapping, attempted vehicle burglary with battery, destruction of evidence and battery.

Nowak, a married mother of three, allegedly drove 900 miles from Houston to confront Colleen Shipman whom she believed a rival for the affections of fellow astronaut Navy Commander William Oefelein. Nowak and Oefelein trained together as first-time shuttle fliers last year, but flew separate missions.

According to the Associated Press, Nowak told police her relationship with Oefelein, who is unmarried, was "more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship," but police recovered a love letter to him in her car.

CNN reports Shipman is a US Air Force Captain stationed at Patrick AFB, FL. She was apparently returning to work from a visit to Houston Monday morning.

Nowak told police she suspected Shipman was romantically involved with Oefelein and drove to Orlando's airport Monday morning wearing a diaper so she wouldn't have to stop. There, she dressed in a trench coat and wig then waited for Shipman's plane to arrive. Nowak rode the shuttle bus to the parking lot with Shipman who noticed Nowak following her and rushed to her car and locked the doors.

Nowak rapped on Shipman's car window asking for a ride. Shipman refused, but rolled down the window after Nowak started crying. Shipman claims Nowak sprayed a chemical through the open window before Shipman drove to the parking lot exit booth where the police were called.

Police say they followed Nowak and observed her dispose of a bag containing a wig and BB gun. After stopping and arresting her, police say they found a steel mallet, a four-inch folding knife, rubber tubing, $600 and garbage bags.

In Nowak's car, parked at a nearby motel, police also found a pepper spray package, and unused BB gun CO2 cartridge, latex gloves and printed e-mails between Shipman and Oefelein.

Nowak allegedly told police she had only intended to scare Shipman into talking about her relationship with Oefelein.

NASA spokesman James Hartsfield told the Associated Press as of Monday Nowak's status as an astronaut remained unchanged. "What will happen beyond that, I will not speculate," he said.

Oefelein, 41, piloted Discovery last December. He flew as a test pilot instructor for the US Navy before his selection as an astronaut in 1998.

Nowak, 43, is a US Naval Academy graduate and also a US Naval officer. Among other assignments, she served at the Navy's flight test and evaluation facility at Patuxent River where she flew F/A-18 and EA-6B aircraft as a systems test specialist.

Last July she flew aboard the Discovery on STS-114, NASA's second return-to-flight mission following the loss of the shuttle Columbia. Nowak was responsible for operating the remote arm as the crew performed several EVAs to complete assembly and maintenance work on the ISS.



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