Bizarre Astronaut Kidnap Story

A reader tipped me off to the Lisa Nowak story Monday evening, and I immediately checked it out. I thought it was a Linkzookery-worthy story, interesting in a small and curious way to folks who follow the industry, so I added it to the post for the end of the week. And I even thought up a really clever comment: “The Wrong Stuff”.

By midday Tuesday, of course, it was headlining everywhere and everyone was going on and on and on about “The Wrong Stuff”.

Everyone’s seen more of this already than can possibly be good for them. I know that I have. It was already very obvious that this woman has some serious issues, and today I read that Nowak and her husband had separated a few weeks ago.

One thing about the coverage that has been bugging me is the whole “diaper” thing. Nowak apparently wore flight diapers during her drive to Orlando from Houston, either to cut down on the number of stops required or (more likely, I think) to cut down on the number of witnesses to her trip. News stories (at least the ones I’ve read) make comments along the lines of “Shuttle astronauts wear diapers during lift-off and re-entry” and leave it at that. Like it’s not really any big deal.

Pardon me, but that is a serious sign that something’s amiss.

This will no doubt be a major black eye for NASA, which can hardly afford any negative press with all the troubles they’re having. The same goes, to a lesser extent, to the military. Nowak is a Captain in the Navy, and it’s not like the military won’t be tarnished by yet another scandalous incident involving one of its personnel.

What’s important to remember, I guess, is that the frantic news coverage this sort of thing generally gets really underscores how it’s the exception rather than the rule. But I’m sure a lot of folks won’t see it that way.

UPDATE: Heidi at Euphoric Reality:

This was not a short 10 minute drive in the heat of the moment. She had fourteen long hours to contemplate the idiocy of her actions. Don’t you think a soggy diaper would put a bit of a damper on anyone’s seething rage??


  1. Don’t you think a soggy diaper would put a bit of a damper on anyone’s seething rage?? Say what you will but the lady was determined. And – one assumes as a test/fighter pilot – used to planning ahead and long trips in small space.

  2. I went out with a crazy chick once – while I worked on space station coincidentally (or maybe not). I found that I did not have an innate need to live close to the flame. By the way, Murdoc, I thought I should add to this story regarding the diapers. They are standard issue to astronauts for extra-vehicular activities (EVA or space walks). Sometimes these EVAs can last 8 hours, and that’s a long time to hold it in a space suit, so I’d say astropsychobitchfromhell was probably well aquainted with them. From what I understand, however, they very much resist using these garmets, especially when it comes to number 2. It must be uncomfortable to share that tight space with astroturds. It can’t be the smell, because anyone who has ever met a shuttle astronaut knows theirs don’t have any odor.