#1Feb 6th, 2007
Tue Feb 6, 12:38 PM
By Barbara Liston
ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - A married U.S. astronaut was accused of attempted murder and trying to kidnap a rival for another astronaut's affections on Tuesday, and held in jail.
U.S. Navy Capt. Lisa Nowak, who flew on the space shuttle Discovery last July, drove 950 miles from Houston to Orlando -- wearing diapers so she wouldn't have to stop to urinate -- to assault a woman she considered competition for the affections of a male astronaut, police said.
Nowak was granted release on $15,500 bail earlier on Tuesday on an attempted kidnapping charge and was ordered to wear a satellite device to allow authorities to track her.
But then she was ordered held pending the new charge.
"There will be no release today. The Orlando police are filing additional charges of attempted first-degree murder," jail spokesman Allen Moore said.
Nowak was expected to appear at a hearing on the new charge on Wednesday.
Nowak, 43, a flight engineer with three children, disguised herself in a dark wig, glasses and trench coat to confront Colleen Shipman at Orlando International Airport but said she "only wanted to scare" the woman, police said.
Wearing a jail uniform, shackled at the waist and head bowed, Nowak said little during her first court appearance on a video link from the Orange County jail, where she was held on charges of attempted kidnapping, attempted burglary of a vehicle and battery.
Orange County Circuit Judge Mike Murphy granted her bail of $15,500 and ordered her to wear a satellite-tracking device so authorities could monitor her whereabouts.
But her release was then put on hold because of the new charge.
WANTED TO TALK WITH RIVAL
Nowak went to Orlando airport around midnight on Sunday night, 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.
She also carried black gloves, a folding knife with a 4-inch (10-cm) blade, rubber tubing and trash bags, police said.
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 the statement, Nowak described her connection to male astronaut Bill Oefelein as "more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship."
According to the affidavit, police were called at 3:50 a.m. (0850 GMT) by Shipman, who told them she had been followed from the airport to a parking lot by a dark-haired woman in glasses, wearing a trench coat with a hood pulled over her head.
Shipman said the woman pounded on Shipman's car 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. She was then sprayed in the face by a chemical that burned her eyes, according to the affidavit.
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. Astronauts wear such diapers during shuttle launches and landings.
They also discovered a letter describing how much Nowak loved Oefelein, e-mails from Shipman to Oefelein and directions to Shipman's house.
Nowak, who grew up in Rockville, Maryland, and attended the U.S. Naval Academy, became an astronaut in 1996 and waited 10 years for her first space flight. She was scheduled to be a lead commentator on the next shuttle flight, a key role for an astronaut on the ground.
Copyright © 2007 Reuters Limited.