I think they need to do better psych evaluations of astronauts
ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Disguised in a dark wig, glasses and a trench coat, U.S. space shuttle astronaut Lisa Nowak waited in hiding for a woman she considered a rival for another astronaut's affections and tried to kidnap her, police in Orlando said on Monday.
Nowak, 43, was arrested on charges including battery and attempted kidnapping, according to an Orlando police affidavit.
She told police she drove from Houston to the Orlando International Airport to confront Colleen Shipman, who Nowak considered a rival for the attentions of fellow astronaut Bill Oefelein, the affidavit said.
Nowak, a married flight engineer with three children, was awaiting her next flight assignment after traveling aboard the shuttle Discovery in July 2006.
Oefelein was part of a separate shuttle Discovery mission in December that continued construction on the International Space Station. The Orlando Sentinel described Shipman as a captain in the U.S. Air Force assigned to the 45th Launch Support Squadron at Patrick Air Force Base, near the Kennedy Space Center.
Around midnight on Monday, Nowak went to the airport disguised in a wig and trench coat, waited for Shipman's flight from Houston to arrive and then followed Shipman to the parking garage armed with pepper spray, a steel mallet and a BB gun, police said.
Nowak also carried black gloves, a folding knife with a 4-inch blade, rubber tubing and trash bags, police said.
In a taped statement given to police, Nowak described her connection to Oefelein as "more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship."
'ONLY WANTED TO SCARE MS. SHIPMAN' - NOWAK
According to the affidavit, police were called at 3:50 a.m. by Shipman, who told them she had been followed from the airport to a satellite parking lot by a dark-haired woman in glasses, wearing a trench coat with a hood pulled over her head.
Shipman told police she could hear the woman's footsteps running after her, so she jumped into her car and locked the doors quickly.
The woman then pounded on Shipman's window, asked for a ride and then asked to use her cell phone. Shipman refused but rolled down her window just enough to be heard and was sprayed in the face by some sort of chemical that burned her eyes, according to the affidavit. Shipman was able to drive away to a toll booth for help.
The affidavit said police spotted Nowak dumping objects into a trash can at a nearby bus stop. Nowak was identified by Shipman.
In her statement to police, Nowak said she did not intend to physically harm Shipman, but "only wanted to scare Ms. Shipman into talking with her."
In a search of Nowak's car, police later found diapers that Nowak told them she wore so she wouldn't have to stop to urinate during her drive. They also discovered a letter describing how much Nowak loved Oefelein, e-mails from Shipman to Oefelein, directions to Shipman's house and receipts indicating Nowak paid only in cash during her trip from Houston, including for her hotel stay.
Police recommended Nowak be held without bail due to the detailed planning, disguises and weapons found in her possession.
Johnson Space Center spokesman James Hartsfield said, "As of now, her status at NASA is unchanged. I cannot speculate beyond that."
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