William Anthony "Bill" Oefelein (Template:IPAc-en; born March 29, 1965) is an American businessman and a former test pilot instructor, naval officer and NASA astronaut who, on his only spaceflight, piloted the STS-116 Space Shuttle mission.[4]

Oefelein gained media attention on February 5, 2007 when fellow astronaut Lisa Nowak was arrested in Florida and charged with attempting to kidnap his girlfriend, U.S. Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman. Nowak later pleaded guilty to felony burglary and misdemeanor battery. Oefelein admitted to a two-year affair with Nowak, and he and Nowak became the first astronauts ever dismissed from NASA. Following the dismissals, NASA created its first astronaut Code of Conduct.[5]

Early life and educationEdit

Oefelein was born in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, but grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, where he flew floatplanes. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Oregon State University in 1988, where he became a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Ten years later he received a Master of Science in aviation systems from the University of Tennessee Space Institute.[4]


In 1988, Oefelein received his commission as an Ensign in the United States Navy from Naval Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida. He entered flight training in Texas in 1989 and was designated a Naval Aviator in September 1990. His early assignments included overseas deployments to the Persian Gulf as a strike fighter pilot in the F/A-18 Hornet. After attending the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN), Oefelein graduated in 1995 from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, where he later served as an instructor. In 1998, he was working as a strike operations officer for Carrier Air Wing Eight at NAS Oceana, Virginia.

In 1998, Oefelein was selected to join NASA's Astronaut Corps. After two years of training and evaluation, he qualified for an assignment as a Space Shuttle pilot. He was initially assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office Advanced Vehicles Branch and Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) Branch. Oefelein completed his only mission as pilot on STS-116, which was launched on December 9, 2006, and logged over 308 hours in space.[4][6][7][8][9][10][11]

NASA terminated Oefelein's service with the space agency on May 23, 2007, stating he would be reassigned to the U.S. Navy.[1][12][13][14] Oefelein and fellow astronaut Lisa Nowak were the first astronauts ever dismissed by NASA, which created a written Code of Conduct for the NASA Astronaut Corps following their termination.[15] Oefelein retired from the Navy in the fall of 2008, returning to Alaska to start a business called Adventure Write as a freelance writer and photographer with his fiancee, Colleen Shipman.[4][16][17][18][19][20]

Spaceflight experienceEdit

Oefelein served as pilot for the STS-116 mission aboard Space Shuttle Discovery from December 9 to 22, 2006. The seven-member crew on this 12-day mission continued construction of the International Space Station by adding the P5 spacer truss segment during the first of four spacewalks. The next two spacewalks rewired the station’s power system, preparing it to support the addition of European and Japanese science modules by future Shuttle crews. The fourth spacewalk was added to allow the crew to coax and retract a stubborn solar panel to fold up accordion-style into its box. Discovery also delivered a new crew member and more than two tons of equipment and supplies to the station. Almost two tons of items no longer needed on the station returned to Earth with STS-116.

Personal lifeEdit

Oefelein met fellow astronaut Lisa Nowak in 1996. They became romantically involved about two years later while training together at NASA.[21] On February 5, 2007, Nowak was arrested at the Orlando International Airport following an alleged assault on U.S. Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman, Oefelein's girlfriend at the time. On November 10, 2009, Nowak pleaded guilty to lesser charges and was sentenced to time served plus one year's probation.[22]

On July 10, 2009, Oefelein and Shipman announced their engagement. They were married in summer 2010 and now live in Anchorage.[23] In September 2011, Oefelein survived a small plane crash in rural Alaska.[24]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 Second astronaut fired in NASA love triangle
  2. Shuttle pilot in bizarre love case quits NASA
  3. "NASA STS-116". NASA. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Biography of William Oefelein
  5., Ex-Astronaut Nowak Pleads Guilty, November 10, 2009, retrieved January 8, 2010
  6. NASA biography
  7. Spacefacts biography of William Oefelein
  8. NASA – Bill Oefelein's STS-116 Mission Blog
  9. NASA biography from 1998
  10. From the Last to the Final Frontier – An Alaskan in Outer Space
  11. Statement Regarding William Oefelein's Departure from NASA
  12. Astronaut Oefelein, NASA Part Ways
  13. Space shuttle pilot at centre of NASA love triangle quits
  14. Template:Cite news
  15. WESH, October 22, 2008, NASA Releases Astronaut Code Of Conduct
  16. Template:Cite news
  17. Former astronaut Oefelein leads reindeer run
  18. Space shuttle pilot at centre of NASA love triangle quits May 27, 2007
  19. Template:Cite news
  20. Man in Love Triangle to leave NASA May 26, 2007 Archived May 10, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  21. Love notes shed light on astronaut assault case, Orlando Sentinel, March 5, 2007
  22. "Former astronaut pleads guilty in attack on rival". Anchorage Daily News. 2009-03-10. 
  23. "Couple In Lisa Nowak Case To Marry In 2010". 2009-07-10. 
  24. Rachel D'Oro (2011-10-07). "Bill Oefelein, Former Space Shuttle Astronaut In Center Of Love Triangle, Survives Plane Crash". Huffington Post. 

External linksEdit

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