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NASA Fires Astronaut Lisa Nowak

Updated 3:22 PM ET March 7, 2007


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - Astronaut Lisa Nowak was fired from NASA on Wednesday, a month after she was charged with trying to kidnap a woman she regarded as her romantic rival for the affection of a space shuttle pilot.

NASA officials said Nowak's dismissal did not reflect the space agency's belief in her guilt or innocence. The agency said it lacked an administrative system to handle the allegations.

"Because Nowak is a naval officer on assignment to NASA, rather than a NASA civil servant, she is not subject to administrative action by NASA," agency officials said in a statement.

Nowak's firing marked the first time NASA has publicly dismissed an astronaut, said space historian Roger Launius of the Smithsonian Institution. She is also the first active astronaut to be charged with a felony, he said.

Nowak, a mother of three, is accused of confronting the woman at the Orlando airport after driving from Houston while wearing an astronaut diaper so that she would not have to stop.

She allegedly pepper-sprayed the woman through a partially lowered car window. In Nowak's vehicle, police found a BB gun, new steel mallet, a knife and rubber tubing.

Nowak, 43, pleaded not guilty to attempted kidnapping and burglary with assault. She was released on bail wearing a monitoring device on her ankle.

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Does this mean she will now go back to active Navy? Does she still get Navy pay? How does this work?

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