Astronauts have always been seen as role models, heroes, and even a type of celebrity. But even this type of praise and high standards has lead to high competitiveness and hellish performance pressure within the field. Is this what led Astronaut Lisa Nowakâ€™s to breakdown?
High school valedictorian, Naval Academy graduate, test pilot, wife and mother of three are roles that will come to mind for those who know Lisa Nowak. However, more recently, mental anguish and breakdown appear to be the most popular descriptors surrounding her. On February 5, Nowak was charged by Orlando Police for attempted kidnap and murder of romantic rival, US Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman concerning a fellow astronaut, William Oefelein.
Shipman claimed that she was aware Nowak had been stalking her for a few months prior. When Nowak discovered Shipman was flying from Houston to Orlando, she decided to confront her. On arriving, Shipman thought someone was following her on the way to her car and as she entered the car Nowak appeared, banging on the window, crying. As Shipman rolled down the window, Nowak sprayed pepper spray into the car and Shipman drove to a parking lot booth to alert the police.
The police reported Nowak disguised herself during the attack by wearing a trench coat and wig. Despite the disguise, Nowak was also carrying a buck knife, steel mallet, gloves, rubber tubing, plastic garbage bags and a few hundred dollars in cash. She was arrested after police caught her trying to throw away her wig and a BB pistol in a trash container nearby. Nowak claimed she wanted to discuss their relationships with Oefelein. As police discovered her car at a nearby motel, they further discovered latex gloves, BB pellets, directions to Shipmanâ€™s house, emails from Shipman to Oefelein, and adult diapers (which were used during her 900mile drive from her home in Houston to Orlando so she would not have to make any stops).
Due to the entirety of evidence of planning, disguise, and weaponry, Orlando police charged her with attempted first degree murder and announced she would not be released on bail. Eventually, her bail amount was raised and Nowak returned to her home in Houston, placed on 30 day leave, forced to wear a tracking anklet and informed not to contact Shipman.
Acquaintances of Nowak admitted the pressures on Nowak were extremely intense. Nowak has consistently been trying to juggle her career and family. A few weeks prior to this dilemma, Nowak and her husband of 19 years separated. It is known that the marital stress in the astronaut field is quite high and intimate relationships with other astronauts are likely to develop. The overall attitudes of her colleagues and family have been of shock and sympathy as Nowak awaits her trial. Fellow NASA employee Jon Clark expressed wishes that the public will empathize with Nowak instead of condemn her.
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Copyright © 2010 Alethea
Disgruntled Astronaut Caught in Love-Murder Triangle
Copyright © 2010 Alethea
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