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back to article NASA says goodbye to love triangle astronaut

Astronaut Bill Oefelein, who you may remember from the tale of nappy-wearing astronaut Lisa Nowak, is leaving NASA, the space agency said on Friday. Nowak, who now faces charges of attempted kidnapping, drove almost 1,000 miles wearing an astronauts nappy, and disguised in a trenchcoat and wig, to confront a woman she believed …

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Bye bye

He will soon resign his commission or, if he has the time in, retire. His career in the Navy is essentially over. His efficiency rating is zero and after three misses at promotion he will experience "up or out".

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Vanishing Pants

I'm still unsure as to why she didn't just get on a plane and wear normal underwear.

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CCTV even in the USA

Gilbert

I'm guessing because she wanted to be able plausibly to deny being there. If the airport CCTV showed an abudction by a heavily disguised person, but there was no corroborating evidence from {petrol|gas} stations, airlines, rail{ways|roads} to show that Novak had travelled there, well, why would she be suspected? Of course, in the good ol' United Kingdom there would be ANPR cameras and databases to consult. Can't travel the length of this country unobserved, no Sir!

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Simpler answer

Even at $3.50 a gallon, it's still cheaper to clog the freeways than to take a plane or train ride. Not to mention faster, less of a hassle, can go at any time, and it's the American Way.

Sad but true.

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Bye Bye? Could be booted out...

According to Wikipedia, Oefelein was commissioned an ensign in 1988. If he has any say in the matter, he'll stay in another year or so until he completes 20 years at which point he can retire on half-pay for life.

HOWEVER, his dalliances with Nowak and Shipman may constitute "conduct unbecoming an officer" under Article 133 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. That being the case, they could conceivably court-martial him, dismiss him from the service and forfeit his pay (including his retired pay).

I suspect that, at worst, he'll be given nonjudicial punishment under Article 15 of the UCMJ and given a formal reprimand. At best, he'll get an informal letter of reprimand that will sit in his service records and effectively prevent any further promotion. The fact that Oefelein, a qualified fighter pilot, wasn't given an operational assignment (i.e., to a fighter squadron or at least to a carrier air wing staff) suggests to me (ex-Navy JAG) that he's being pressured out of the service. Not only is his career effectively over, but they'll give him crap jobs to "encourage" him to leave as soon as possible.

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Why Was Oefelein Fired From NASA?

NASA has no rules against adultery nor fraternizing with coworkers. If his affair with Nowak was a concern for NASA why wasn't he fired when she was? He was kept on the shuttle crew and still eligible for flight status, collecting flight pay for another three months. NASA's IG inspection must have turned up information on him that justified his firing, other than his affair with Nowak.

Reading the e-mails between Oefelein and Shipman in one he tells her "Please don't lose faith in your Space program. There is a lot of smart people here. You just chose to hang around one of the low hanging fruits". By that, I wonder if she was trying to get into the astronaut program and using her contact with him for that end. Just a guess. If he was helping her in that direction that alone would get him fired. That would also get them both court-martialed. Maybe not if both were the same rank but he is a senior officer and she is a junior officer. It doesn't sound like NASA has any rules on behavior other than something like that. I can understand why they fired Nowak but not Oefelein. It would have to be something found on him during the NASA IG inspection. Navy regulations and rules are a completely different story but NASA fired him not the Navy. I'm sure when the Navy is finished with him there won't be much left for him to brag about. Feel sorry for both him and Nowak, so many years of training to end up like this.

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