Image:  Lisa Nowak and William Oefelein
This combination photo shows astronauts Lisa Nowak and William Oefelein in their official NASA portraits.
updated 5/25/2007 7:28:40 PM ET 2007-05-25T23:28:40

The space shuttle pilot at the center of a love triangle that led an ex-astronaut on a bizarre diaper-clad drive across five states to confront her rival is leaving the space agency, NASA announced Friday.

Cmdr. Bill Oefelein will leave NASA on June 1, nearly four months after authorities believe his cooled relationship with Lisa Nowak led her to drive 900 miles (1,448 kilometers) from Houston to Florida and confront her romantic rival.

"NASA requested his reassignment and the Navy agreed," said Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Doug Gabos.

Although Oefelein has yet to receive orders, Gabos said the Navy expects to assign Oefelein to the Naval Network Warfare Command in Norfolk, Virginia, where he will work in the field of satellite communications. Oefelein will likely report for duty in July, Gabos said.

NASA spokesman Jim Rostohar declined to comment on the reason behind Oefelein's reassignment.

"NASA has determined that Commander Oefelein's detail is no longer required for the purposes it was originally granted," Rostohar said.

A call to Oefelein's home phone was unanswered Friday.

Oefelein, 42, was previously in a relationship with Nowak, a Navy captain who has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from an attack on Oefelein's girlfriend, Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman, at the Orlando, Florida, airport on Feb. 5.

Police say Nowak raced through five states to confront Shipman, wearing an astronaut diaper so that she would not have to stop.

Slideshow: Month in Space: January 2014 Nowak, 44, was charged with attempted kidnapping, burglary with assault and battery. Oefelein told detectives he had a two-year relationship with Nowak, but ended it some time after he started a relationship with Shipman.

NASA released Nowak from the astronaut corps a month after her arrest. She is now working at the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in Texas.

Oefelein received his commission from the Navy in 1988 and entered flight training in Texas the following year. He became a NASA astronaut in June 1998 and reported to the Johnson Space Center in Houston the following August.

Oefelein was informed of the decision to end his detail on Wednesday, Rostohar said. Oefelein was a pilot during the last shuttle mission in December, which continued construction of the international space center.

He has since been working in the astronaut office, supporting the shuttle program, Rostohar said.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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