Second astronaut fired in NASA love triangle

HOUSTON Sat May 26, 2007 11:25am EDT

This combination photo shows NASA Astronaut Lisa Nowak (L) and William Oefelein in their official NASA portraits. The space agency has dismissed Oefelein, who was involved in a love triangle that led to a confrontation between Nowak and another woman in a Florida airport, a spokesman said on Friday. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

This combination photo shows NASA Astronaut Lisa Nowak (L) and William Oefelein in their official NASA portraits. The space agency has dismissed Oefelein, who was involved in a love triangle that led to a confrontation between Nowak and another woman in a Florida airport, a spokesman said on Friday.

Credit: Reuters/NASA/Handout

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HOUSTON (Reuters) - The U.S. space agency has dismissed the male astronaut involved in a love triangle that led to a bizarre confrontation between a female astronaut and another woman in a Florida airport, a spokesman said on Friday.

William Oefelein, 42, who admitted to an affair with fellow astronaut Lisa Nowak that began when both were married, is being sent back to the U.S. Navy effective June 1, a NASA Johnson Space Agency spokesman said. He was told Wednesday.

Nowak, also a Naval officer, was dismissed from the U.S. astronaut corps in March and sent back to the Navy.

She awaits trial in September on attempted kidnapping, burglary and assault charges after police said she drove from Houston to Orlando, Florida, in February to confront another woman Oefelein was dating.

Orlando airport security video showed Nowak wearing a trenchcoat, confronting Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman in the parking lot and dousing her with pepper spray.

Police said Nowak had a knife, a steel mallet and a BB pistol when arrested. She had worn diapers during the 1,000-mile (1,670-km) drive to avoid having to stop, police said.

Oefelein has divorced since his affair with Nowak. She has separated from her husband.

Each flew in space once -- she in July 2006, he last December. Oefelein was a space shuttle pilot and Nowak was a shuttle robot arm operator.

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