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NASA Space News

NASA Fires Astronaut 323

davidwr writes "In an unprecedented move for an unprecedented situation, NASA has fired now-former astronaut Lisa Nowack. She is facing charges of attempted kidnapping related to an incident earlier this year. Ms. Nowack is a Navy officer and remains so."
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NASA Fires Astronaut

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  • Re:Why is this odd? (Score:5, Informative)

    by nofx911 ( 634100 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @08:09PM (#18269716) Homepage
    According to NASA the felony investigation is only a fraction of the problem. She is technically on lone from the Navy - which means that she is only allowed to work in certain roles that the Navy has pre-authorized for her. Since she can not participate in those roles, due to her current legal obligations (shes not allowed outside of Houston), there is nothing that she can do within NASA. Henceforth, NASA has no choice other than releasing her.
  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @08:26PM (#18269944) Journal

    Besides, it's more like she's a Navy pilot seconded to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for space research projects. If she's no longer suited to work on such projects, the right thing to do is to take her off those projects and return her to her regular Navy pilot duties
    NASA said it requested Nowak's detail be ended "because the agency lacks the administrative means to deal appropriately with the criminal charges pending against Nowak. Because Nowak is a naval officer on assignment to NASA, rather than a NASA civil servant, she is not subject to administrative action by NASA."

    In other words, NASA's only option (other than doing nothing) is to fire her.

    As for the quality of people NASA takes into their program, they're mostly products of the Navy/Army Test Pilot School. Even the engineers (like this crazy robotic arm operator) went to test pilot school.
  • Not necessarily... (Score:3, Informative)

    by LinDVD ( 986467 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @09:21PM (#18270566)
    Getting fired from the Federal Government is generally tough-especially if you are prior military. Unlike private industry, it requires TONS of paperwork, and/or an extraordinary event. You have to really fuck up to get canned. Typically, the way to deal with a problem employee is to promote them into another department or position-that is usually how it is done. This is one reason why the Federal Government has some seriously mismatched people in certain positions. Also, the closer you are to retirement, the less likely they will actually fire you. You can be marginalized, but you won't get fired very easily. Some branches of the military are cracking down on some bad behavior. For example, the US Coast Guard will fire you if you get yourself a DUI as a civilian, and if you are active duty you COULD get two DUI's (pending a board review) before being fired, but that's it. On the flip side, you could be a lazy bum and be a low productivity worker for decades, and probably make it to retirement while being paid moderately well.

    The line of separation for GS positions typically stops at the GS-12 level-there are still some incompetent workers at the 13, 14 and 15 levels, but the numbers are far fewer, because at those levels incompetency and general specialist/management efficiency becomes blurred.

    Note, there is a little hope on the horizon-the Federal Government IS though moving some jobs away from the GS classification into a new pay banding system that rewards you based on performance, but unions are suing to slow down the change over with mixed results. That's why some job postings say GS and others have the new classification. Under the new pay banding, the probability of getting fired doesn't change much, but it is harder to move up if you are a bad worker.
  • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @09:28PM (#18270660)
    Or "usual" missions.
    Ask any 18-wheeler driver if they use a "piss jug"! When you are stuck in traffic, or have valuable cargo, or don't want to stop in a bad neighborhood, a plastic jug solves problems nicely.
  • by josecanuc ( 91 ) * on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @10:03PM (#18271018) Homepage Journal

    Getting fired from the Federal Government is generally tough-especially if you are prior military.

    To be sure, she isn't "prior military". She is a current Navy officer formerly on assignment to NASA. As far as paperwork goes, she is just reassigned out of NASA, since the Navy is still her administrator and she hasn't been discharged (yet).

  • by Chmcginn ( 201645 ) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @11:42PM (#18271914) Journal

    I'd figure with cases like this, they'd just keep her suspended without pay pending the outcome of the trial.

    This can't be done, legally, because Capt. Nowak is a military officer. (As it says in the article, the reason NASA requested her transfer back the regular Navy is because they do not have the authority to use administrative measures against military members assigned to them.

    Firing her sounds like NASA is taking a stand in what is probably an ongoing investigation . . .

    This is actually pretty common in all things military. It doesn't take conviction of anything to remove an officer or enlisted person from a special position, like a commanding officer, executive officer, command representative, or even just a normal pilot. Even just being charged with something questionable usually results in the person being relieved of that position/command until the whole issue is sorted out. If they're found innocent, they might get another chance at it sometime later...

  • Re:Has anyone tried (Score:5, Informative)

    by mclearn ( 86140 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @01:48AM (#18272808) Homepage
    Hell, most female paragliders wear diapers when performing long cross-country flights especially in competitive or hostile environments when landing for bathroom breaks is not an option. Most guys tend to perform "high altitude irrigation" -- it's easier to perform when you can angle the flow.

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?