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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 February 2007, 09:43 GMT
Astronaut in 'love kidnap plot'
Florida police photo of Navy Capt Lisa Nowak
Ms Nowak said she did not intend to harm Ms Shipman
A US astronaut has been charged with trying to kidnap a woman she thought was a rival for the affection of a space shuttle pilot.

Navy Capt Lisa Nowak, 43, who flew to the international space station last July, was charged with attempted kidnapping, battery and other crimes.

She drove from Texas to Florida to confront Colleen Shipman, disguised in a wig and trench coat.

Police said Capt Nowak, who was denied bail, used pepper spray on Ms Shipman.

The man in the love triangle was said to be Navy Cmdr William Oefelein, who was a pilot on the Discovery's mission to the space station in December.

E-mails

Police said Capt Nowak drove 1,000 miles (1,600km) from her home in Houston to Orlando International Airport, wearing a nappy to avoid a toilet break.

The arrest affidavit says Capt Nowak then followed Ms Shipman in an airport bus.

Lisa Nowak and William Oefelein
Ms Nowak and William Oefelein never flew on the same mission

Capt Nowak pursued Ms Shipman to her vehicle in the car park.

Ms Shipman locked herself in but rolled down the window when Capt Nowak began to cry, the affidavit says.

Ms Shipman was then attacked with the pepper spray, it says. She drove to a car park booth and police were called.

An officer followed Capt Nowak and she was stopped allegedly carrying the wig, an air rifle, a steel mallet and a knife.

A search of her vehicle revealed pepper spray and e-mails between Ms Shipman and Cmdr Oefelein, police said.

In the affidavit, Ms Nowak describes her attachment to Cmdr Oefelein as "more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship".

Capt Nowak told police she just wanted to scare her rival into talking about her relationship with Cmdr Oefelein.

Attempted kidnapping carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Nasa biographies list Capt Nowak as married with three children and Cmdr Oefelein as single with two children. The pair never flew together.

A Nasa spokesman said at present Capt Nowak's status was "unchanged".

Florida's Orlando Sentinel newspaper said Ms Shipman was an engineer with the 45th Launch Support Squadron at a base close to the Kennedy Space Centre.


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SEE ALSO
Shuttle lifts off in night launch
10 Dec 06 |  Science/Nature
Discovery makes Florida landing
17 Jul 06 |  Science/Nature
From sci-fi to sci-fact
07 Dec 06 |  Magazine

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