Lisa Nowak was six years old when she watched Apollo 11 and decided she wanted to be an astronaut. After high school, she enrolled in the United States Naval Academy and became an Aerospace Engineer. In 1996, Lisa joined NASA and fell in love with fellow astronaut Richard Nowak. The couple got married, moved to Texas, and had three children together.
In January 2004, Lisa embarked on an 11-day survival training course with fellow astronaut and married man, William Oefelein. When they returned to Houston, Lisa, and William began an intense extramarital affair. In May 2005, his wife discovered the affair and immediately filed for divorce.
William continued to see Lisa and even gave her a key to his apartment. She was completely obsessed with him and hoped for a meaningful relationship, so it came as quite a shock when in January 2007, William dumped Lisa for 30-year-old U.S. Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman.
Lisa used her spare key to enter William’s apartment and found passionate emails between him and Colleen. When she discovered that her romantic rival was flying to Orlando on February 5, 2007, Lisa decided that they needed to sit down for a heart-to-heart — or something a bit more sinister.
Running on fury and heartbreak, Lisa drove 1,000 miles from Houston to Orlando International Airport, wearing a diaper to avoid stops along the way. She arrived at 1 am and spotted Colleen at the baggage carousel. Like a scene out of a cheesy psychological thriller, Lisa put on a wig and an oversized trench coat and followed her so-called nemesis to her car.
Lisa tapped on the driver’s side window and asked Colleen for a ride, claiming that her boyfriend hadn’t shown up. Sensing something was off, Colleen declined but offered to call for help. When Colleen started to roll her window up, Lisa violently attacked her with pepper spray.
Colleen managed to drive away. She called the police and Lisa was arrested. In her car, they found pepper spray, a knife, gloves, a steel mallet, a BB gun, and a stack of email print-outs between William and Colleen.
Lisa pleaded guilty to burglary and misdemeanor battery. She was sentenced to one year of probation and was ordered to write an apology letter to Colleen.
Colleen and William moved to Alaska, got married, and had a son. After experiencing night terrors, dizzy spells, and panic attacks from the assault by Lisa, Colleen used her trauma as inspiration and became a successful literary agent and fiction author, writing under the pen name C.M. McCoy.
Things didn’t work out so well for Lisa. She became the first-ever on-duty astronaut to face felony charges, lost her dream job at NASA, was demoted by the Navy, and her husband Richard filed for divorce. It’s a wonder how a bright woman with no criminal record and an impressive list of accomplishments earned herself the nickname, “The Astro-Nut.”