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Home / Science / The NASA mission launched Lisa Nowak's career, fall, and diaper jokes

The NASA mission launched Lisa Nowak's career, fall, and diaper jokes



It was the diapers, not their journey into space, that made Lisa Marie Nowak a national sensation.

When the former astronaut was arrested for stalking and assaulting her ex's girlfriend in 2007, she had some eyebrows raised in her possession: pepper spray, a mallet, a knife, a BB gun, a map to her romantic rival's house , Just as impressive were the details of her actions: on February 5, she was the wife of Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman, followed from the Orlando airport to her car, where she sprayed a pepper spray on her face before Shipman's ride and got help.

Despite all this, it was the fact that Nowak, on her nine-hour drive from Houston to Orlando, had worn nappies for adults who caught fire in public consciousness. "Astro-Nut!" Screeched headlines, accompanied by a mug shot of the once triumphant shuttle crew member, who was disoriented and disheveled. It was an amazing crash for a woman who had spent so much of her life writing history as one of the few women traveling to the stars ̵

1; and who had reached her destination only a year earlier.

A new film The film "Lucy in the Sky", released this week, plays Natalie Portman as a fictional version of Nowak. But it's exciting to take the diapers out of the scenario and ask yourself why you would make a movie about such a well-known piece of recent history without including what made history so indelible.

Nowak believes she knows why: "They did not want her to become a punchline," said Diane Fanning, author of Out There, a 2007 book about Nowak's life story and tragic downfall to the post. She also thinks that the truth about this dirty nappy detail has to be clarified.

  Natalie Portman's character in
Natalie Portman's character in "Lucy in the Sky" is loosely based on Lisa Nowak. Fox Searchlight Pictures

As an astronaut, the fact that she wore a diaper was the most normal part of this entire expedition, "said Fanning, who had no access to Nowak for her research. It was something that all astronauts did – it was not special – when you take off and all the pressure presses against your body, it also pushes against your bladder – and the bang, everything goes You're going to wet your pants, so it's good to put on a diaper. "

Fanning claims that wearing diapers is not a sign that Nowak had gone around the corner – it's an indication that she's the one Being an astronaut.

Born in Washington, DC in 1963, Lisa Caputo has always wanted to be an astronaut.

"Growing up, she was competitive, ambitious, a perfectionist, not someone who seemed destined to She has done so well throughout the school, she has a high rank in the student government, she went to church, and she dreamed of walking on the moon, "author Claudia K wrote alb, a childhood friend of Nowak, two years after being arrested in Newsweek.

Nowak was inducted into the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. She faced a treatment in which less determined women shouted for the outcome.

"It was one of the first years women were allowed," Fanning said, "and there was a lot of pressure against women. Some of the professors stood in front of a class, and students looked at them directly and said, 'I do not think women belong here. "

Nowak persisted and eventually became a naval officer in 1987. She also founded a family with husband Richard Nowak, who had been classmate at the Naval Academy. In February 1992, her son was born and in March she earned a master's degree in aeronautical engineering, Fanning said, adding that she also graduated in aviation and astronautics the following September. "It's like, who does it all at the same time?"

  Lisa Nowak
Lisa Nowak Alamy Stock Photo

When Nowak made it into NASA's astronaut corps in 1996, she was on the brink of success. She was still juggling her duties: she and Richard had twin girls in 2001, though the busy mother had left much of the parenting to her husband.

In 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia disbanded after reentry and killed its seven crewmembers – including Nowak's best friend, Mission Specialist Laurel Clark.

"Instead of taking the time to mourn, she became the bereavement counselor for this woman's family," Fanning said. "That was another blow to her life at home – she was not home to see her husband and children, and she did not care about herself."

Soon after, Nowak began an affair with another astronaut, William Oefelein, whom Fanning described as "Billy O." He was a notorious gambler, the type of cowboy astronaut described in Tom Wolfe's 1979 book "The Right Stuff". Nowak and Oefelein set out to survive Fanning claims to have built a romantic relationship in extremely cold temperatures.

"Here was someone who had to work a lot and had to be away from the kids to take care of their husband and not see him very much and I think it distracted them," Fanning said.

In 2006, Nowak's dream of space finally came true. She was Mission Flight Engineer on the Discovery Space Shuttle (Oefelein was not a crew member) and served a robotic arm for a series of spacewalks on the shuttle's 13-day mission in July this year.

"Everything was fine" On the mission, "said Fanning. "I mean, yes, there was some tension as this was only the second flight after the Columbia disaster, but it was lovely."

After the mission was over, there was no second flight on the horizon for Nowak: The shuttle program expired and there were far more astronauts available than flights were scheduled.

"All the former astronauts I talked to [going to space] were even more incredible than they had imagined," Fanning said, "and there was a strong feeling that they would never come back. And when you came back, you just longed to go again.

After Nowak's escape with an insecure career path and a failed marriage, she got more bad news: Oefelein was Colleen's expired Shipman and told Nowak in 2007 that he would put an end to her.

At this point, something snapped in this amazingly successful Type A woman. Or had it taken a long time?

"After the confrontation with Shipman," wrote Kalb, "Nowak received a series of mental diagnoses, including OCD, a single episode of major depression, insomnia, and Asperger's Disorder Remember Lisa as a happy person with a smile, but she was also reserved and private and slightly impenetrable, we took classes together, celebrated birthdays together, but I can not say she ever trusted me, she seemed to be Nor do we rejoice at the closeness and wonder of youth friendship. "

  NASA astronaut Lisa Marie Nowak is shown on a photograph provided by NASA in March 2005 on the left and on a photograph taken in February 2007 by the sheriff & # 39; s Department in Orange County, Florida.
NASA astronaut Lisa Marie Nowak is on the left in a NASA photograph of M 2005 and right in a February 2007 photo provided by the Sheriff & #. s Department in Orange County, Florida. AP

Kalb also wonders if Nowak was changed by her escape and – just like Portman's character in "Lucy in the Sky" – simply could not recalibrate in the following months. "Was it just jealousy, the hell of the injured lover of Paradise Lost?" Or could it have been the challenge to adapt to space after space? Last year, a study revealed that astronaut Scott Kelly's DNA had been altered by 7% after spending nearly a year on the International Space Station, and NASA has also begun to warn astronauts to shut down Mood swings and depression may be prone.

"Extensive psychiatric and psychological examinations are conducted as part of the astronaut selection process," NASA's news release after Nowak's arrest said there would be an "internal assessment of our practice of behavioral medicine" to determine whether improvements are needed.

Ironically, her lawyer argued after Nowak's attack on Shipman in court that adult diapers had never been put into practice. "The biggest lie in this absurd story that's been told is that mine Customer with diaper nonstop from Houston, Texas, to Orlando, Florida, fell It is, "said her lawyer Donald Lykkebak. He said car nappies found in the car were left over from 2005 when the Nowaks grabbed the car for a hurricane evacuation with the children.

Whatever the truth, it is this relatively insignificant but taboo-breaking detail that Nowak will follow – who is Nowak is said to have led a quiet life in Texas, in which Fanning speculates that she might be a teacher – for always.

After being initially charged with attempted kidnapping, burglary and battery, Nowak was finally charged with the burglary of criminals and found guilty of battery offense, already sentenced to one year probation and two days imprisonment.

She apologized to Shipman at her hearing. "I am truly sorry that I have caused fear, misunderstandings and intense public attention, and I sincerely hope that we can move forward privately," said 46-year-old Nowak, who was directly opposite Shipman. Nowak did not reconcile with her husband; They were officially divorced in 2008.

"It was a real tragedy to see them fall so far," said Fanning, who liked her theme more and more as she recorded her misdeeds and the life that led to them. "That's why I've dedicated my book to anyone who has ever done anything stupid in the name of love."


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