Lisa Nowak : biography
Lisa Marie Nowak (née Caputo) (born May 10, 1963) is a former American naval flight officer and NASA astronaut. Born in Washington, D.C., she was selected by NASA in 1996 and qualified as a mission specialist in robotics. Nowak flew aboard during the STS-121 mission in July 2006, where she was responsible for operating the robotic arms of the shuttle and the International Space Station.
Nowak gained international attention on February 5, 2007, when she was arrested in Orlando, Florida, and subsequently charged with the attempted kidnapping of U.S. Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman, who was romantically involved with astronaut William Oefelein. Nowak was released on bail, and initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, which included attempted kidnapping, burglary with assault, and battery. Her assignment to the space agency as an astronaut was terminated by NASA effective March 8, 2007. On November 10, 2009, Nowak agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to charges of felony burglary of a car and misdemeanor battery. The episode "Rocket Man" of the police procedural Law & Order: Criminal Intent was loosely based on this incident.
Nowak remained a Navy Captain until August 2010, when a naval board of inquiry, composed of three admirals, voted unanimously to reduce Nowak in rank to Commander and to discharge her from the Navy under other than honorable conditions.
Nowak married Richard T. Nowak, a classmate at both the Naval Academy and naval flight school, in 1988. Richard Nowak was employed by a contractor to NASA at Johnson Space Center. The Nowaks have three children, a son born in 1992 and twin daughters born in 2001. A statement from the family indicated that the Nowaks separated in January 2007 and subsequently divorced.
Immediately following William Oefelein's divorce, he and Nowak became involved with each other. Their affair lasted two years, with Oefelein beginning to break it off gradually near the end of 2006. It was during this time that Oefelein started a relationship with Colleen Shipman, who was working as an engineer with the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida.
Early life and education
Lisa Nowak is the daughter of Alfredo and Jane Caputo of Rockville, Maryland. She first became interested in the space program when she was six years old, watching the Apollo moon landings. Nowak followed the Space Shuttle program, particularly the introduction of female astronauts, while she was growing up. She graduated from Charles W. Woodward High School in Rockville, Maryland, in 1981, and received her Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the United States Naval Academy in 1985. Nowak earned a Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering, and a degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering in 1992 from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.
Nowak received her commission in the United States Navy in 1985. In 1987, she became a Naval Flight Officer via the Tactical Navigation syllabus at Training Squadron 86 (VT-86) at NAS Pensacola, Florida. Nowak was then assigned to Electronic Warfare Aggressor Squadron 34 (VAQ-34) at NAS Point Mugu, California, where she flew both the EA-7L and ERA-3B aircraft, supporting the U.S. Pacific Fleet in small and large-scale exercises with jamming and missile profiles. In 1993, she was selected for transfer to the Restricted Line as an Aerospace Engineering Duty Officer, and to attend the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. After graduating from the Naval Postgraduate School, Nowak stayed at Patuxent River working as an aircraft systems project officer at the Air Combat Environment Test and Evaluation Facility and at Strike Aircraft Test Squadron, flying in the F/A-18 and EA-6B. Nowak was then assigned to the Naval Air Systems Command, working on acquisition of new systems for naval aircraft, when she was selected for the astronaut program. She logged over 1,500 hours of flight in over 30 different aircraft during her career in the Navy. On August 20, 2010, a panel of three U.S. Navy admirals recommended that she be discharged from the Navy and her rank reduced from Captain to Commander. Her service was classified as "other than honorable."Military Times, "", July 28, 2011.
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