Ah, the complications that arise when romantic commitments go awry. Perhaps most tragic is when it’s all played out in public and the personal pain of all parties concerned becomes fodder for the media.
Such is the case with Lisa Nowak, who was an astronaut for NASA until gaining infamy for being the explosive tip of a love triangle. Nowak, who was a mission specialist in robotics on the space shuttle Discovery in 2006, went from being a woman worthy of emulation for the strides she made in a male-dominated field (she was a Naval Flight Officer and achieved the rank of Captain) to just another person driven to despair by romantic entanglements.
Nowak is back in the news of late as a Navy panel has recommended downgrading her rank to Commander and refusing to give her an honorable discharge.
A Navy panel says the service should discharge former astronaut Lisa Nowak, who lost her NASA job over a bizarre airport attack on a romantic rival.
The panel made the recommendation Thursday after a daylong hearing at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville.
The recommendation now goes to the Naval Personnel Command. A final decision will be made by the Secretary of the Navy.
The panel recommended downgrading Nowak from captain to commander and giving her a discharge of “other than honorable.”
So what exactly did Nowak do? It was pretty sensationalized back in the winter of 2007, but basically she went to the Orlando International Airport armed with paraphernalia ranging from pepper spray to a black wig to a BB gun with the alleged purpose of kidnapping Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman, the girlfriend of Nowak’s kinda sorta secret boyfriend William Oefelein, who was also an astronaut.
Despite being pepper sprayed by Nowak while sitting in her car, Shipman managed to reach the parking lot booth and get help.
Nowak was arrested at the airport and charged with attempted kidnapping, battery, attempted vehicle burglary with battery, and destruction of evidence (an officer saw Nowak trying to put some stuff into a trash container).
Obviously—and with good reason—Nowak was fired from her NASA assignment. She pled guilty to felony burglary charges and misdemeanor battery through the court system and was sentenced to a year of probation, although her fate with the military—including possible charges in that venue—have been looming over her.