NASA astronaut accused of first crime in space

Washington: Officials with NASA are reportedly investigating an allegation that an astronaut accessed the bank account of her estranged spouse from space, which may be the first allegation of a crime committed in space.

Anne McClain, a decorated astronaut who was once set to be part of NASA's first all-female spacewalk, allegedly accessed Summer Worden's bank account while on a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station, according to the New York Times. The pair were married in 2014; Worden filed for divorce in 2018.

US astronaut Anne McClain is helped out from a space capsule shortly after landing back on Earth in June.Credit:AP

Worden filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, claiming McClain had stolen her identity although she saw no signs anyone had moved or used funds in the account. Worden's parents brought a separate complaint to NASA's Office of the Inspector General that described a "highly calculated and manipulative campaign" designed to win custody of the couple's child.

"There's unequivocally no truth to these claims. We've been going through a painful, personal separation that's now unfortunately in the media," McClain said in a statement released on Twitter. "I appreciate the outpouring of support and will reserve comment until after the investigation. I have total confidence in the IG process."

NASA declined to comment on personal or personnel matters involving employees but released a statement to Space.com saying "Lt Col. Anne McClain has an accomplished military career, flew combat missions in Iraq and is one of NASA's top astronauts. She did a great job on her most recent NASA mission aboard the International Space Station."

Through her lawyer, Rusty Hardin, McClain said that she had accessed the account, but insisted that she did so to ensure the family's finances were in order and that there were sufficient funds in the account to care for their child, who was born a year before they met. She claimed she was never told to stop using the account and continued to use the same password she had throughout the relationship.

Astronaut Anne McClain looks at a laptop inside the US Destiny laboratory module of the International Space Station. Credit:NASA via AP

"She strenuously denies that she did anything improper," said Hardin, adding that McClain was "totally co-operating".

The International Space Station is a joint project involving the United States, Canada, Japan, Russia and several European countries. There is a legal framework that dictates people and possessions in space are under the jurisdiction of their country of origin, according to the BBC.

USA Today

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