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Terms of endearment buried in e-mails

The e-mail files that NASA released relating to a notorious astronaut love triangle dwell more on the everyday business of the space agency than on the soap-opera aspect.
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The more than 200 pages of NASA e-mail messages relating to astronaut Lisa Nowak and her alleged assault on a romantic rival translate into 13 megabytes' worth of PDF files, dominated by the agency's daily business rather than the terms of endearment that sometimes cropped up between the players in a real-life soap opera.

Those seeking to indulge their prurient curiosity about the love triangle will likely be disappointed: Most of the messages, which stretch back several years, dwell on travel schedules and news of shuttle missions, or NASA's policies on leave and life insurance.

The most relevant documents are e-mail exchanges where Nowak and the other astronaut in the triangle, Bill Oefelein, refer to their friendship and events they would be attending — or where Oefelein tells Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman, the woman whom Nowak confronted at Orlando's airport back in February, that her clothing size would be "sexy and athletic."

At one point, Oefelein signs off on a message to Shipman with the phrase "love you." But a far steamier set of e-mails between the two was released by prosecutors back in March, including a message in which Shipman told Oefelein that she wanted to "rip your clothes off" when he got home from space.

Here is the set of e-mails released this week by NASA in response to Freedom of Information Act requests, hosted on the Johnson Space Center Web site. You'll need a PDF reader such as Adobe Acrobat Reader to open the files:

  • Nowak tells Oefelein that she's going to a social event "only if u r." In other e-mails, they discuss taking a training flight together, or meeting for an exercise session. The file also includes NASA reactions to Nowak's arrest. 1.5 MB.

  • More discussion of travel plans between Nowak and Oefelein, and conversations about training. Forwarded messages on military life insurance. Oefelein discusses an Alaska trip with Shipman, including the "sexy and athletic" comment and the need for "privacy!!!!" 742 KB.

  • This selection delves into technical discussions of shuttle mission plans as well as further NASA reaction to Nowak's arrest — including a reference to the "media circus." A long attached file details NASA's policy on leave. 1.1 MB.

  • Detailed discussions involving Nowak and Oefelein, relating to mission plans and post-mission social activities. Nowak flew on the shuttle Discovery in July 2006. 2.7 MB.

  • Further discussion of mission preparations, in advance of Oefelein's spaceflight in December 2006. 7.0 MB.