Exclusive: Astronaut Love Triangle Victim 'Thought ... She Was Going to Murder Me'

Colleen Shipman tells story behind astronaut love triangle that turned violent.

ByABC News
February 17, 2011, 1:53 PM

Feb. 18, 2011 — -- Former NASA Astronaut Lisa Nowak made media tidal waves in 2007 when she was arrested at the Orlando International Airport on suspicion she attacked her perceived romantic rival.

As the details emerged, the story became almost legendary: Nowak made a 900-mile drive from her home in Houston to Orlando, stalking her victim through the airport in a disguise and later attacking her with pepper spray.

Nowak later pled guilty to charges of felony burglary by conveyance -- for reaching into Shipman's car during the attack -- and misdemeanor battery.

Most notably, the accusation that Nowak drove the entire distance wearing diapers to avoid bathroom breaks was almost too much for the late night comedy circuit to handle.

Yet lost to some in the bizarre tale was the victim, Colleen Shipman.

CLICK HERE to see photos of Shipman, Nowak and Oefelein.

Shipman was 29 when she met astronaut Bill Oefelein at an Orlando, Fla., house party. Little did she know that the 2006 encounter would do more than just begin an other-worldly relationship. It also would kick-start a chain of events that would land her in the middle of a bizarre astronaut love triangle.

For the first time, she is sharing her story of the events with "20/20."

"He was just a charming, handsome, very polite man, and he started talking to me," Shipman told anchor Chris Cuomo in an exclusive interview.

According to Shipman, the two hit it off immediately. Oefelein was a mere month away from joining a rare, celebrated group of heroes who voyaged into space.

What Shipman didn't know was that Oefelein also had unfinished business with another astronaut -- one with whom he'd been having an affair for two years, Lisa Marie Nowak.

Oefelein mentioned to her that he had been seeing someone else but had broken it off, according to Shipman. As far as she was concerned, the affair was a thing of the past.

"He didn't mention any names or anything, and he said, 'I had this talk with her and we're going to remain friends. But there's no romance there or anything,'" Shipman said.