Written by Doppelbock
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Friday, 4 January 2008

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Space shuttle Atlantis on the tarmac at Edwards AFB, after being diverted due to a passenger disturbance.

HOUSTON, TX (AP Newsliar) -- Federal air marshals charged an astronaut with groping a female payload specialist aboard space shuttle Atlantis.

The earth orbit-bound space shuttle flight was diverted to a reentry and landing at Edwards Air Force Base after an astronaut reportedly groped the female payload specialist while she was trying to sleep. The astronaut, whose name has not been released, was detained by federal air marshals and taken to an unoccupied part of the shuttle. Space shuttle commander Stephen Frick opted to divert the shuttle to an Edwards landing so the disruptive passenger could be removed.

Federal marshals were added to space shuttle flights as a precautionary measure after astronaut Lisa Marie Novak was charged with the attempted murder of a rival for another astronaut's affection, at the Orlando International Airport last February.

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