Documents: Astronauts Described Nowak As Smart But Selfish; Crew Mate Suspected Affair
Tuesday, May 1st 2007, 2:42 pm
News On 6
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ Fellow astronauts described Lisa Nowak as smart, hardworking and a good mother, but also selfish and unwilling to perform tasks for which she hadn't trained, according to documents released Tuesday by the state attorney's office.
That glimpse into the astronaut's life was found in hundreds of pages of documents that include summaries of interviews with four astronauts following Nowak's arrest in February on charges of attempted kidnapping, burglary with assault and battery.
Police said she drove from Houston to Orlando to confront Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman. Authorities have said Nowak had an affair with Shipman's boyfriend, Bill Oefelein, a fellow astronaut.
Nowak, 43, has pleaded not guilty to all charges. NASA released her from the astronaut corps a month after her arrest, and she now is working at the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi.
The four astronauts _ all crew mates who flew with Nowak and Oefelein on two separate missions to the space station last year _ were interviewed by investigators with NASA's Office of Inspector General and the Naval Criminal Investigative Services.
They said she refused to give out her cell phone number to her fellow astronauts on last July's space shuttle mission to the international space station and was noticeably upset when a colleague was chosen over her in December to go on a future shuttle mission.
Madeline Chulumovich, executive officer at the Office of Inspector General, said the office's policy prohibited her from saying whether the investigators were assisting in the criminal case or whether there was a separate investigation by the space agency.
NASA rules don't prohibit relationships between astronauts, but Nowak and Oefelein kept the affair secret. Nowak was married and had three children, while Oefelein, who has two children, divorced his wife in 2005.
Astronaut Mike Fossum, who flew with Nowak aboard space shuttle Discovery last July, told investigators that over the years he grew to suspect that Nowak and Oefelein were having an affair.
Fossum once saw Oefelein and Nowak fly to Key West together on a training jet after Nowak had apparently lied to another crew member about where she was going.
Fossum also saw Nowak and Oefelein in the hallway of crew quarters at Kennedy Space Center before Discovery's flight last July. ``Fossum stated that this was odd because very few individuals other than crew members had reason to be in the area,'' the investigative summary said.
The relationship didn't affect their work, Fossum said, so he never mentioned anything to anyone.
Astronaut Mark Kelly, who was the pilot on Nowak's flight to the space station, said he was unaware of Nowak's relationship with Oefelein. He described Nowak as smart and well-prepared but told investigators he didn't like her.
``She was not a good team player, and he learned in space that she exhibited bad expedition behavior because she was selfish,'' the investigative summary said.