Astronaut Spaced Out

What fascinates me about this case is that I like to think astronauts are well-trained, disciplined, logical. Donning a wig, trench coat, and diapers in order to mug someone doesn’t fit my perception of how an astronaut should behave.

NASA astronaut Lisa Marie Nowak was charged with attempting to kidnap another woman, and that just doesn’t fit with my perception of how astronauts should behave.

Nowak, a married mother of three, stood in a jail uniform, looking down during most of the hearing. She planned to return home to Houston, and the judge ordered her to wear a tracking device.

I’m surprised she was released. She doesn’t sound to me like she’s in control of all her actions, nor does she sound rational, nor does she sound like she isn’t a danger to somebody.

Police said she drove 900 miles, donned a disguise and was armed with a BB gun and pepper spray when she confronted a woman she believed was a competitor for the affections of Navy Cmdr. William Oefelein, an unmarried fellow astronaut.

Nowak raced from Houston to Orlando wearing diapers in the car so she wouldn’t have to stop to go to the bathroom, authorities said. Astronauts wear diapers during launch and re-entry.

Dressed in a wig and a trench coat, she waited for Shipman’s plane to land and then boarded the same airport shuttle bus Shipman took to get to her car, police said. Shipman told police she noticed someone following her, hurried inside the car and locked the doors, according to the arrest affidavit.

Nowak rapped on the window, tried to open the car door and asked for a ride. Shipman refused but rolled down the car window a few inches when Nowak started crying, the statement said. Nowak then sprayed a chemical into Shipman’s car, the affidavit said. Shipman drove to the parking lot booth and police were called.

An officer reported following Nowak and watching her throw away a bag containing the wig and BB gun. Police also found a steel mallet, a 4-inch folding knife, rubber tubing, $600 and garbage bags inside a bag Nowak was carrying when she was arrested, authorities said.

How many of these skills were taught to her by NASA? You might be inclined to say “none of them,” but that’s not true. NASA taught her to wear the diapers. Did they teach her to use rubber tubing and a wig?

NASA spokesman James Hartsfield in Houston said that, as of Monday, Nowak’s status with the astronaut corps remained unchanged. “What will happen beyond that, I will not speculate,” he said.

And she’s still an astronaut. Since she’s required to wear a tracking device, does this device work in space? When she leaves the shuttle to go for a “spacewalk” will the tracking device work in space? Where exactly could she go?

Now I know why Major Nelson acted so goofy. I thought it was because he had a mentally unstable genie he kept in a bottle, but now I’m thinking something about being an astronaut pushed him off his rocker.

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