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NASA Ousts Astronaut Nowak; She Gains Navy Assignment

By | March 12, 2007

      Lisa Marie Nowak, facing criminal charges in Florida, last week was dismissed as an astronaut, NASA announced.

      A Navy captain, Nowak will be given an assignment in the Navy, pending resolution of the criminal charges.

      She was an astronaut last year on the July 4 liftoff of Space Shuttle Discovery on the STS-121 mission to the International Space Station, only the second shuttle mission since the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.

      The agency explained its decision to terminate Nowak’s astronaut status.

      “NASA requested an end to the detail because the agency lacks the administrative means to deal appropriately with the criminal charges pending against Nowak,” the space agency stated. “Because Nowak is a naval officer on assignment to NASA, rather than a NASA civil servant, she is not subject to administrative action by NASA.”

      At the same time, NASA stated its dismissing Nowak doesn’t mean the space agency assumes she is guilty of the charges. “NASA’s decision to terminate Nowak’s detail does not reflect any position by NASA on the criminal charges pending in Florida,” NASA stated.

      Nowak, an active duty naval officer, began her detail with NASA following selection as a member of the astronaut class of 1996.

      Authorities alleged that Nowak drove nonstop from Houston to Florida where, armed with pepper spray, a mallet, and a knife, she confronted an alleged romantic rival, an Air Force captain, whom Nowak thought also was seeking the affections of astronaut William Oefelein, a commander in the Navy.

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