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Airport video tracks lovelorn astronaut

Former NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak, charged with attacking a romantic rival at Orlando airport, is seen in surveillance video stalking the woman around the airport for three hours, prosecutors said Friday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Former astronaut Lisa Nowak waited nearly an hour at the airport for the romantic rival she is accused of attacking, donning a trenchcoat as the woman looked for her bags, a video released Friday shows.

The security footage from Orlando International Airport depicts Nowak arriving at 12:33 a.m. Feb. 5, then following 10 to 15 yards (meters) behind Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman as Shipman went to the baggage claim area.

Police say Nowak raced the 900 miles (1,440 kilometers) from Houston to the Orlando airport to confront Shipman, wearing an astronaut diaper so that she would not have to stop. She was arrested in February after police say she attacked Shipman in the parking lot, shortly after the video was taken.

Nowak, 44, has pleaded not guilty to attempted kidnapping, burglary with assault and battery. Authorities have said Nowak had an affair with Shipman’s boyfriend, astronaut Bill Oefelein.

The judge has asked the prosecution and defense to limit contact with the media, so neither police nor prosecutors would discuss the tape. Nowak’s defense did not immediately return calls and e-mails left after business hours Friday.

The video does not include footage of the alleged attack.

Before Shipman arrives, Nowak goes off camera for about five minutes and reappears. Nowak stands and intermittently paces, carrying a bag on one shoulder.

At one point she hurriedly walks to the baggage escalator, then reappears moments later. Shipman arrives about 50 minutes after the cameras show Nowak appear in the waiting area, and Nowak follows when she leaves.

Nowak appears to be standing just a few feet away as Shipman waits for her bags. After a couple of minutes, the former astronaut pulls on and buttons up a light-colored trench coat. The end of the tape, nearly three hours after Nowak’s first security camera showing, shows someone with a light trenchcoat running.

Authorities have said Nowak pepper-sprayed Shipman after knocking on her window and saying she needed help.

Police said they found a BB gun, a new steel mallet, a knife and rubber tubing in Nowak’s possession. NASA released Nowak from the astronaut corps a month after her arrest. Her trial has been moved to September.