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WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2007
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EDITORIAL

This NASA astronaut missing the right stuff

The bitter cold that settled

We don't expect our NASA astronauts to behave the way authorities say Lisa Marie Nowak has.

Ms. Nowak, is a 43-year-old married mother of three. The robotics specialist, a Naval Academy graduate with a master's degree in aeronautical engineering, participated in a space shuttle Discovery mission to the International Space Station in July. She is among an elite few who have traveled to space. It almost appears as if she could write her own ticket.

But that changed dramatically Monday, as the astronaut traded in her flight suit for a jail jumpsuit.

Ms. Nowak satisfied the bail Tuesday on charges of attempted kidnapping, attempted vehicle burglary with battery, destruction of evidence and battery. But Orange County, Fla., jail authorities refused to release her as Orlando police prepared to add a charge of attempted first-degree murder.

The charges all stem from Ms. Nowak's actions early Monday when, police say, she confronted a woman she believed to be a rival for the affections of another astronaut — one who is not Ms. Nowak's husband.

News accounts of the bizarre incident include details about a love letter, a wig and trench coat, a BB gun, a steel mallet, a 4-inch folding knife, rubber tubing, pepper spray, garbage bags, diapers and a confrontation between the two women in an airport parking lot.

Until this week, NASA's astronaut program has had a sparkling reputation. The public saw participants in the space agency's Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Shuttle programs as the best of the best; top specimens not only physically, but also mentally, morally and emotionally.

Ms. Nowak's alleged behavior changes all that.

Apparently, love can make one do strange things.

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