Anatomy of an Out-of-This-World Affair

He kept photos of himself with Shipman on his home computer, and that is how he believes Nowak discovered the identity of his new girlfriend.

Shipman told investigators she had a page on myspace.com and had posted several videos of photos of herself and Oefelein on it; she has since shut it down.

Oefelein took leave and flew out to Florida the morning he found out his ex-girlfriend had attacked his current girlfriend.

Shipman told investigators Oefelein did not believe Nowak was dangerous. "He told me he had no idea that she was, that she would do something like this. He said that he felt horrible, that he should have seen some kind of sign or something."

When investigators asked Oefelein why he thought Nowak would attack Shipman, he replied, "You know, we are all full of theories. I would never have predicted this. Her behavior indicated to me that she was stable and accepting of what I'd told her about Colleen. She had actually wished me a nice weekend, knowing Colleen was going to spend it with me."

What will happen to Nowak and Oefelein? Nowak is on a 30-day medical leave,which expires Thursday. NASA's options are to continue her leave, reinstate her or fire her; she could also choose to resign. She is accused of attempted kidnapping, and burglary with assault, which could mean a lengthy prison sentence.

In addition, Oefelein and Nowak both are officers in the Navy, and they have both admitted to adultery, which is an offense both could be tried for in military court.

Lisa Nowak was a mission specialist on STS 121 last summer. It was her first and most likely only flight. Bill Oefelein was the pilot on the last shuttle mission, which was his first flight, and probably his last as well.

Sixteen shuttle flights have been commissioned to finish and supply the International Space Station, and one mission is planned to fix the Hubble Telescope. There are just over 100 astronauts, and half have not flown yet. The chances of two astronauts flying again, who have broken the rules and embarrassed NASA so publicly, would appear to be slim.

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