The Hammer of Thor
A sexy love triangle.
And adult diapers.
This case had everything.
US astronaut Lisa Nowak flew into space on the Space Shuttle Discovery
on the STS-121 mission in July 2006.
She operated the robotic arms of the shuttle and the
International Space Station.
Meanwhile her personal life was going off the rails.
She had married Richard Nowak, who had been her classmate at the
U.S. Naval Academy and naval flight school in the mid 1980s.
She graduated from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterery,
California, in 1992.
Then she attended the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in 1993.
She entered the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1996.
She and fellow astronaut William Oefelein began an affair around 2004.
He gradually broke it off in late 2006, around the time of his space flight
He was the pilot on the mission, December 9th to 22nd, 2006.
He began dating Colleen Shipman,
an engineer with the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida,
which also operates Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Meanwhile, Nowak and her husband separated in January 2007
and later divorced.
The Long Drive
Nowak drove from Houston to Orlando on February 4–5 2007.
That's a little over 960 miles.
She had latex gloves, black gloves, a BB pistol and pepper spray,
a black wig and hooded trench coat, a 2-pound drilling hammer,
an 8-inch folding knife, rubber tubing, and plastic garbage bags.
She drove to the Orlando airport and went to the baggage claim area
for about an hour.
She was waiting for Colleen Shipman, who was flying in from Houston.
She then followed Shipman to the parking lot.
Shipman said that she got into her car and locked the doors when
she heard someone running toward her.
Nowak slapped the window, tried to open the car door,
asked for a ride, and started crying.
Shipman opened her window a couple of inches,
and Nowak sprayed pepper spray into the car.
Shipman drove to the parking lot attendant's booth and asked them them
to summon the police.
Several officers of the Orlando Police Department's Airport Division arrived
within minutes, observing Nowak stuffing a bag into a trash can at the
parking shuttle bus stop.
They arrested her on charges of attempted kidnapping, battery,
attempted vehicle bulgary with battery, and destruction of evidence.
Given the evidence of elaborate planning, disguises, and weapons,
they recommended that she be held without bail.
According to the police report she was wearing a
Maximum Absorbency Garment.
The Disposable Absorption Containment Trunk
was developed for female astronauts on early Shuttle flights
to wear during launch or spacewalks.
Maximum Absorbency Garment
Adult disposable absorbent underwear became available around 1980,
intended for adult incontinence.
NASA began using commercial adult diapers in 1988.
They made up the name "Maximum Absorbency Garment" to avoid using
a trade name.
Their fabric includes sodium polyacrylate, a super-absorbent powder
that can absorb from 100 to 1000 times its weight in water.
It's known commercially as waterlock.
The MAG can hold up to two liters of urine, blood, or liquid feces,
absorbing the liquid and pulling it away from the skin.
NASA had previously used custom-made waste collection gear.
This Urine Collection and Transfer Assembly
was carried in the Skylab command module in 1973.
Both Nowak and Oefelein were dismissed from NASA's Astronaut Corps,
the first such dismissal.
NASA immediately created its first astronaut Code of Conduct.
No hammers, and no pepper spray, among other restrictions.
She was reduced in rank from Captain to Commander,
and then discharged from the Navy under other than honorable conditions.
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