Page last updated at 22:41 GMT, Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Plea deal for ex-Nasa astronaut

Ms Nowak apologised to her rival for the incident

An ex-US astronaut accused of attacking and trying to kidnap a love rival has been given a year's probation after pleading guilty to lesser charges.

Lisa Nowak, 46, admitted charges of third-degree felony burglary and misdemeanour battery over the 2007 incident, in a deal with prosecutors.

Police said she drove across the United States to confront her rival for the love of a space shuttle pilot.

The former Nasa mission specialist's trial had been due to start next month.

Ms Nowak, a navy captain, was sacked by Nasa after the incident. She flew on a space shuttle mission in 2006.

'Sincerely sorry'

The former astronaut was arrested on 5 February 2007 after driving more than 1,000 miles from Houston to Orlando International Airport.

She went to confront Colleen Shipman, then an air force captain, over her relationship with Nasa astronaut Bill Oefelein - with whom Ms Nowak had had a three-year relationship.

Lisa Nowak (2nd left) and the Space Shuttle STS-121 crew on 15 June 2006
Ms Nowak served as a mission specialist on a space shuttle flight

Police said she used pepper spray on Ms Shipman and tried to get into her car, but Ms Shipman drove away.

Ms Nowak pleaded guilty in Orlando to charges of third-degree felony burglary and misdemeanour battery. She was also given 50 hours community service and told to send a letter of apology to Ms Shipman.

Under previous charges which included attempted kidnapping she could have faced a long prison term.

Ms Shipman told the court she was still reeling from the "vicious attack", saying she suffered from nightmares and other medical problems that had ended her military career.

Ms Nowak apologised to her, saying:"I am sincerely sorry to cause fear and misunderstanding and all of the intense public exposure."

Ms Shipman and Mr Oefelein - who was also dismissed by Nasa - live together in Alaska. Ms Nowak remains a member of the US Navy.

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