Playing a greater role, perhaps, is the odd world that contemporary astronauts inhabit. The first astronauts were a disciplined bunch, but they were also test pilots. That meant thatwith the exception of the well-mannered John Glennthey spent their time enjoying the good whiskey, fast cars and plentiful women befitting their celebrity status. Back then NASA called these things high jinks and looked the other way. "The country needed heroes, so a myth was created," says Burrows. "NASA didn't go public with these matters."
But today everything is public, and in the tut-tut world of exposé journalism, astronautsparticularly womenmisbehave at their peril. Nowak's NASA bio includes a seemingly focus-group-tested list of 10 wholesome hobbies, such as running, skeet shooting and raising African violetspastimes somewhat at odds with a 900-mile pursuit in a wig and diapers. For now, Nowak will have time to return to those hobbies: NASA has placed her on a 30-day leave. The space agency will move beyond this episode but has already publicly resolved to keep a closer eye onand take better care ofthe astronaut colleagues Nowak leaves behind.
With reporting by Hilary Hylton/Austin and Barbara Liston/Orlando