Panel: Lovelorn NASA astronaut should go
The NASA astronaut who drove from Houston to Orlando to confront her rival in a love triangle should be separated from the Navy with a less-than-honorable discharge, a Navy panel recommended on Thursday.
Nowak flew a Space Shuttle mission in 2006 and had a romantic relationship with shuttle pilot Bill Oefelein. She pleaded guilty last November to felony burglary and misdemeanor battery after confronting her rival for Oefelein's heart in Feb. 2007. Nowak lost her assignment to NASA as a naval officer shortly after her arrest.
Her story caught wide attention amid reports she wore a diaper during the trip to avoid making bathroom stops. She later denied those reports.
The panel, which met Thursday at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, will make its formal recommendation to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who has the final say on the matter.
Nowak would lose all military pensions and benefits if she is dishonorably discharged.
Oefelein retired from the Navy in 2008 and announced his engagement to the other woman, Colleen Shipman, in 2009. At last report, the couple was operating a freelance writing and photography business in Alaska, according to NBC.
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| August 20, 2010; 11:37 AM ET
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