Tuesday, February 06, 2007

"Houston, We Have (another) Problem..."

Truth is stranger than fiction—or at least way more interesting than anything you might see on Wisteria Lane. NASA is reeling from the arrest of one of its Shuttle Astronauts for stalking a female colleague for the purpose of confronting her over their mutual attraction to another spaceman.

Perhaps we should call in the EPA to check the water supply in Clear Lake City, home of the Johnson Space Center, and some of the most courageous Americans to walk the planet…

Let me be clear--I am in awe of our Astronaut Corps who fly the shuttle fleet to and fro at great personal risk… but apparently, Clear Lake is also home to some real nutty behavior on and off the planet, with the arrest of Navy Capt. Lisa Marie Nowak for assaulting a rival astronaut at Orlando’s airport.

Capt. Nowak drove more than 12 hours from Texas to meet the 1 a.m. flight of the younger astronaut, and showed up wearing a trench coat and wig, and carrying a knife, latex gloves and a BB-gun in her car.
In space, BB-guns are lethal weapons.

In Nowak’s car, police also discovered diapers, which she’d worn so that she could make the 1,000-mile trip from Texas to Florida without stopping. (Is that a strategy they teach in the Clara Harris Driving School?)

Police say a steel mallet, several feet of rubber tubing and hand-written directions to Shipman's home were recovered from Nowak's car as well, which was parked at a nearby LaQuinta Inn.
LaQuinta—isn’t that Spanish for Space Port?

I’m sure that the mallet and rubber tubing were in the trunk just in case Nowak had to make emergency roadside repairs on her shuttle craft…a la Apollo 13.

Apparently, after the competing astronaut’s flight landed at Orlando, Nowak followed her to the airport's long-term parking lot, tried to get into the woman’s car, and doused her with pepper spray. Nowak is now charged with attempted kidnapping, battery, attempted vehicle burglary with battery, and destruction of evidence.

In fact, when she was arrested, she was considered such a danger that they held her without bail in the Orange County Jail. Probably a good thing she wasn’t behind the stick of a fighter jet…or a shuttle…or a Mercedes Benz in a parking lot.

Although Nowak is a married mother of three, she told police that she was "involved in a relationship with another NASA astronaut, which she categorized as "more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship…"

Nothing like planning ahead…and if they were to “hook up,” that would add a whole new meaning to “Space Rendezvous…”

Does this raise the bar—or the minimum altitude--for membership in the mile-high club?

Nowak was aboard last summer's 12-day flight to re-supply the International Space Station and test safety features and repair techniques. I wonder if she was stalking the other astronaut from space—you can see everything from up there…

The Navy Captain flies in the Shuttle as a Flight Engineer on ascent and entry, sitting behind and between the pilot and commander, “helping coordinate things and keep the big picture," according to her bio on NASA’s website. Does she whack them with the rubber hose when they get out of line?

She is a former test pilot who has logged more than 1,500 hours of flight in at least 30 types of aircraft.
Bet she’s a crack-shot with that BB-gun, too.

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