NASA is reportedly investigating the first-ever crime committed in space—but the purported transgression is linked to a domestic dispute back on Earth. According to The New York Times, astronaut Anne McClain has been accused of hacking into her estranged spouse’s bank account while on a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station.
McClain's wife, former Air Force intelligence officer Summer Worden, filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission accusing McClain of identity theft, though "she saw no sign that anyone had moved or made use of the funds in the account," according to The New York Times.
Worden's family also reportedly filed a separate complaint with NASA’s Office of the Inspector General accusing McClain of a “highly calculated and manipulative campaign” to attempt to win custody over Worden's 6-year-old son, whom the couple raised when they were still together.
McClain and Worden are currently in the process of a divorce, as well as in the middle of the custody battle over Worden's son, according to NBC News. The child was reportedly born a year before the now-estranged couple met, and Worden refused to let McClain adopt the child even after they got married in 2014.
According to the The New York Times:
In early 2018, while the couple was still married, Ms. McClain went to a local court in the Houston area to ask a judge to grant her shared parenting rights and “the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child” if the parties could not reach a mutual agreement, according to records. She contended that Ms. Worden had an explosive temper and was making poor financial decisions, and she wanted the court to “legally validate my established and deep parental relationship” with the young boy.
McClain, a decorated NASA astronaut, was on a mission preparing for the first ever all-female spacewalk (the highly anticipated event was eventually cancelled due to a lack of spacesuits in women's sizes), when she allegedly accessed Worden’s bank account.
The astronaut vehemently denied the accusations in a tweet Saturday. “There’s unequivocally no truth to these claims. We’ve been going through a painful, personal separation that’s now unfortunately in the media,” she said in the Twitter statement. “I appreciate the outpouring of support and will reserve comment until after the investigation. I have total confidence in the IG process.”
“Family cases are extremely difficult and private matters for all parties involved. Neither Anne nor we will be commenting on this personal matter. We appreciate the medias understanding and respect, as maintaining privacy, is in the best interest of the child and family members involved,” McClain's attorney Rusty Hardin told KPRC in a statement.
NASA didn’t comment on the accusations, but told NBC News in a statement that 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."
According to the outlet, Worden has said their divorce will be finalized in October and that no court date has been scheduled in the custody case.
Rose Minutaglio Staff Writer Rose is a Staff Writer at ELLE.com covering culture, news, and women's issues.