Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/02/08/nasa_reviews_psych/

NASA announces psych testing review

How do you spot an astronut?

By Lucy Sherriff

Posted in Science, 8th February 2007 13:42 GMT

NASA says it will re-evaluate the psychological screening it does for its astronauts, after Shuttle pilot Lisa Nowak was arrested this week on charges of attempted murder, attempted kidnapping, and battery.

The space agency told reporters late yesterday that there had not been the slightest hint that anything was up with Nowak. She finished work as usual on the Friday before donning a nappy and embarking on the 1,000 mile drive from Houston to Orlando over the weekend.

Deputy chief administrator Shana Dale said NASA would also go back over Nowak's records to see if there were any "red flags" that were missed. Dale said NASA needed to be sure the screening was adequate, both in terms of frequency and thoroughness.

The psychological screening procedures will be reviewed internally, but NASA says Lisa's arrest, and the events leading up to it, have prompted enough concern within the agency to involve outside experts as well.

Nowak is accused of attempting to kidnap and murder fellow NASA employee Colleen Shipman, who police believe she saw as a rival for the affections of fellow astronaut William Oefelien. Her family say the charges "infer too much" from her actions.

Nowak allegedly lay in wait for Shipman at Orlando International Airport, before trying to talk her way into Shipman's car. When she failed, police say she sprayed Shipman with pepper spray. On searching her car after her arrest, police say they found a variety of weapons, as well as rubber tubing and rubbish sacks.

Shipman is seeking a restraining order, claiming she was stalked for two months before the incident.

Nowak is currently on a 30 day suspension from NASA, and has been relieved of her mission duties while the incident is being investigated. ®