Unspeakable Times
582.9k readers

Lisa Nowak: The Astronaut Who Drove Across The Country In A Diaper

Updated February 21, 2020 582.9k views11 items
Editor's Note: Voting and Reranking have been closed.

Lisa Nowak had all the right stuff - she was the mother of three young children and a bonafide astronaut in the NASA space program. She had a career, a family, and a husband who loved her. But in just two years, her fairy tale life would splinter into a thousand pieces as her grim mugshot and unbelievable crimes were plastered across every TV screen in America. Under her perfect life of beauty and fame lurked a volatile woman who wanted nothing more than to find revenge against the woman she hated. Spurned by her ex-lover and propelled by jealousy, Lisa Nowak's fiercely competitive drive had morphed into a dangerous obsession, and she would not rest until her nemesis was out of the way - for good. 

Nowak's adventure might top the list of the worst crimes ever committed by an astronaut.

  • She Had The Support Of Her Colleagues

    Lisa Nowak had several colleagues at NASA who supported her after the incident, including her superior Steve Lindsey and a fellow astronaut Chris Ferguson. They both appeared in court on her behalf and spoke of Nowak's positive qualities in the NASA space program. 

    "We’re here supporting Lisa,” said Colonel Lindsey, who knew Nowak for 11 years before the incident with Shipman. “Our primary focus is her health and well-being and taking care of her and keeping her safe and getting her with her family so they can deal with this very private and difficult matter.”


  • She Took A Plea Agreement And Avoided Prison

    Photo: Mugshot / Fair Use

    Accused of attempted kidnapping with intent to inflict bodily harm and burglary of a vehicle using a weapon, Nowak could have faced a life sentence. Instead, Nowak pled guilty to lesser charges of felony burglary and misdemeanor battery and was able to avoid prison. 

    Because she lacked a criminal history and had a reputable position at NASA, she was only given a year of probation. In addition to this punishment, Nowak was assigned community service and the task of writing an apology letter to her victim. Nowak was also forced to complete an eight-hour anger management course.

  • Her Victim 'Made Peace' With Her Attacker

    Following the attack, Shipman lost weight and endured ongoing stress and anxiety. She couldn't concentrate, felt constantly frightened, and began to carry a concealed weapon to protect herself.

    Although deeply scarred by the attack, Shipman finally made peace with the experience after nine long years. Her reflections on the case sparked a change in career, and she began writing about her experiences. "Being a writer is cathartic. Time has a way of making the past more poetic," she said. As for Oefelein, he was forced to retire as an astronaut. The two married in 2010 and settled down in Alaska where they now have a son. In 2011, Oefelein survived a small plane crash.