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  Astronaut Lisa Nowak returns to the Navy

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Author Topic:   Astronaut Lisa Nowak returns to the Navy
dennisl
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posted 03-07-2007 05:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dennisl   Click Here to Email dennisl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
Statement Regarding the Status of Lisa Nowak

U.S. Navy Capt. Lisa Nowak's detail as a NASA astronaut has been terminated, effective March 8, by mutual agreement between NASA and the U.S. Navy.

Nowak, an active duty naval officer, began her detail with NASA following selection as a member of the astronaut class of 1996. She flew one mission, STS-121 in 2006.

NASA requested an end to the detail because the agency lacks the administrative means to deal appropriately with the criminal charges pending against Nowak. 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.

Nowak will receive her next assignment from the U.S. Navy.

NASA's decision to terminate Nowak's detail does not reflect any position by NASA on the criminal charges pending in Florida.

Editor's note: This thread is for the discussion of NASA's termination of Capt. Nowak's astronaut career only. Discussion of the criminal charges filed against Capt. Nowak were discussed under the earlier thread, Lisa Nowak arrested on attempted kidnap, battery charges. That thread, currently closed to new replies, may be reopened as events merit.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 03-07-2007 05:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From AP:
An astronaut charged with trying to kidnap a woman she allegedly believed was a romantic rival was fired by NASA on Wednesday, a month after she was arrested in Florida.

NASA officials said Lisa Nowak's dismissal did not reflect on 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.

FutureAstronaut
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posted 03-07-2007 05:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FutureAstronaut   Click Here to Email FutureAstronaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Though most of us probably already knew this was coming, and she deserved this in my opinion, it is still difficult to believe.

I bet NASA never thought they would have had to do such a thing.

randy
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posted 03-07-2007 05:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for randy   Click Here to Email randy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It was the only thing NASA could do to distance themselves from it as gracefully as possible, so that everyone can move on.

dennisl
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posted 03-07-2007 05:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dennisl   Click Here to Email dennisl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It had to be done. Sympathies to her family.

mjanovec
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posted 03-07-2007 05:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What grounds for dismissal did NASA cite? If they are saying the dismissal doesn't reflect on her guilt or innocence, I'm curious what reasons they gave to dismiss her. Note that I'm not saying the dismissal was right or wrong... I agree that her career at NASA was essentially over no matter the outcome of the trial.

art540
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posted 03-07-2007 05:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would think EXTREME EMBARRASSMENT would be enough even though the term is emotional but it fits the organization standard as well.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-07-2007 05:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This message was sent by Johnson Space Center Director Michael Coats to his employees:
NASA and the Navy have mutually agreed to terminate Captain Lisa Nowak's detail as an astronaut, effective Thursday, March 8. You will no doubt read and hear much about this action through the media in the coming days, so it's important that you understand why this action was taken.

As with all active-duty military astronauts, Lisa was detailed to JSC and is not a civil servant. We made the request to the Navy because NASA does not have the administrative options available to deal appropriately with the criminal charges currently pending against her. This decision does not reflect any position on the pending charges.

In the meantime, Lisa has many friends here in the local community who will continue to support her over the coming months, as friends do.

It is important that we continue to focus on our work. We have a shuttle mission launching in a few weeks, a crew aboard the space station and important work being done in the Constellation Program. Please do not let what you see or hear about recent events distract you from the important work we have to do.

If you have any concerns at all, please talk with your manager or with me. As always, we are here to support each other.

Robonaut
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posted 03-07-2007 06:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robonaut   Click Here to Email Robonaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA's decision to terminate Nowak's detail does not reflect any position by NASA on the criminal charges pending in Florida.
What rubbish. Of course people will read something into this. Whatever happened to 'innocent until proven guilty'. NASA should have supported their astronaut. She gave 10 years loyal service and the least NASA could have done is do nothing until the courts had finished with the matter.

If the stories of what she did are in any way accurate she clearly had a breakdown of some sort. Maybe brought on by the pressures of work? Regardless of the cause of her problems NASA should have supported her.

I would normally keep my own counsel on this type of subject and have not discussed it before in any message board or in my own writings on human spaceflight. I had no future plans to do so until this news from NASA.

I am sorry but I had to say my piece.

FFrench
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posted 03-07-2007 11:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While other astronauts have been, in truth, effectively "fired" in the past, this has been done in the tactful way of, officially, announcing their resignation or wording the official release so that a reassignment appeared voluntary.

This is, to my knowledge, the first time that an astronaut has been officially 'fired.' Is that correct, to others' knowledge?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-08-2007 12:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Roger Launius agrees, from the AP:
It was the first time NASA has publicly fired an astronaut, according to space historian Roger Launius of the Smithsonian Institution.
Technically though, Nowak didn't work for NASA -- she was on assignment by the Navy -- and therefore, NASA didn't really fire her but requested the Navy to reassign her (which they already have, she is assigned to the staff at the Chief of Naval Air Training in Corpus Christi, Texas).

FFrench
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posted 03-08-2007 12:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oh, indeed - hence "fired" in quotes. While I have read of threats in the past to bump someone back to their parent service, and most got the hint and took a reassignment, is this the first time that this was officially done to the individual, rather than giving them the breathing room to make their own, more graceful exit? I can't recall anything else similar in the near-fifty years of NASA astronaut history.

issman1
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posted 03-08-2007 05:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What about Nowak's ex-lover, Oefelein, who also bought the Astronaut Corps into such tabloid disrepute? Imagine the news headlines if he was to command a shuttle flight. (!)

Ken Havekotte
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posted 03-08-2007 06:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Actually, to my understanding, the first NASA astronaut asked to leave the astronaut corps -- perhaps privately -- was Donn Eisele. After his Apollo 7 11-day demonstration flight in 1968 he was assigned as backup CMP for Apollo 10. His work and duties as a backup crewmember, plus the fact that he was going through a messy divorce, didn't sit too well with his astronaut bosses. Eisele was reassigned a desk job at Langley and was no longer on spaceflight status. He left the space program and retired from the Air Force in 1972.

mjanovec
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posted 03-08-2007 09:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Technically though, Nowak didn't work for NASA -- she was on assignment by the Navy -- and therefore, NASA didn't really fire her but requested the Navy to reassign her
I don't think any employers ever use the word "fired" anymore (except for Donald Trump, of course). Michael Coats said she was "terminated"... which is the same thing, in my book.

Question is, would she still have been terminated if NASA thought she was innocent of the charges placed against her?

FFrench
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posted 03-08-2007 09:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ken Havekotte:
Actually, to my understanding, the first NASA astronaut asked to leave the astronaut corps--perhaps privately--was Donn Eisele.

Thanks Ken. Yes, that was done more privately and discreetly, and he was not relieved of his duties in such a public way - he moved over to Langley, which to the public appeared to be a simple transfer with no stigma attached. He wasn't the first (that happened I believe in 1965, long before Eisele) nor the last to do so in that more discreet way. This current case seems to be getting handled quite differently.

KC Stoever
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posted 03-08-2007 11:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Because the military pilot/astronauts are officially on loan to a civilian agency, one has to think that conversations and memo traffic between parent commands and NASA are fairly common.

For example, Jim Webb wrote a memo about Scott Carpenter dated March 20, 1964 (N.B.: the date [March 30] shown on the version in For Spacious Skies, is wrong--the photocopy the authors had was blurry), complaining about Carpenter not being available for his duties as an active duty astronaut.

Webb sounds kind of miffed about the whole Sealab business and appears to be asking someone called Admiral Boone about permanently "returning" Carpenter to the Navy.

Not the same thing as a "firing" (given the circumstances) but certainly illustrative of the way such personnel matters are generally handled between the armed services and a civilian agency using seconded officers.

KSCartist
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posted 03-08-2007 01:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The biggest difference between the M-G-A guys and today is the 24/7 media coverage of every bit of minutia in the lives of celebrities.

The other difference is that to our knowledge and from reading all of the biographies no other astronaut assaulted a romantic rival.

The US Navy will wait until a verdict is reached and then, if convicted she will probably face a court martial.

Also I don't beleive Bill Oefelien will fly in space again due to the media attention it would bring. There is a real possibility he could face disciplinary action from the Navy as well.

The whole thing just makes me sad because they achieved so much and fell so far.

My best wishes to their families.

chappy
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posted 03-08-2007 06:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chappy   Click Here to Email chappy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm saddened that NASA had decided to terminate Lisa Nowak's career at NASA, which is very understandable. It looks that NASA hasn't support Lisa or Bill through the situation.

Lisa knew that her career at NASA is over on the day of her arrest. My sympathies goes to Lisa's and Bill's families and as a space buff, it's time to move on to the new future and hopefully that Lisa will get professional help towards to her future as a civilian.

Thanks Lisa for her ten years at NASA...

SRB
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posted 03-08-2007 08:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SRB   Click Here to Email SRB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I hope NASA gave Nowak a chance to request reassignemnt and make this her "choice" before they had to publicly "fire" her.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 03-09-2007 12:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by KSCartist:
The biggest difference between the M-G-A guys and today is the 24/7 media coverage of every bit of minutia in the lives of celebrities.
There's a difference too, in the way things are covered, with no "gentlemen's agreement" to turn a blind side toward anything unpleasant. Not just with the astronauts, too.

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