Astronaut Accused of Committing Cybercrime in Space
NASA is reportedly investigating claims that one of its astronauts has become the first person to commit a crime while in space.
U.S. Army Astronaut Lt. Col. Anne McClain allegedly accessed a bank account belonging to her estranged wife, Summer Worden, while on active duty at the International Space Station.
A complaint was filed by Worden with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in relation to the alleged case of identity theft. A second complaint was then filed by Worden’s parents with NASA’s Office of Inspector General.
No allegations have been made against McClain regarding the movement or removal of any funds from Worden’s account.
McClain and Worden, who filed for divorce in 2018 after four years of marriage, are currently in dispute over the custody of their 6-year-old son. It is alleged that McClain told NASA investigators that she logged into her estranged wife’s bank account to check that it contained enough money to ensure the former couple’s son was being adequately provided for.
NASA has yet to respond to the allegations against McClain, stating only that “NASA does not comment on personal or personnel matters.”
In a statement, NASA described McClain as “one of NASA’s top astronauts,” who “did a great job on her most recent NASA mission aboard the International Space Station.”
Rusty Hardin, McClain’s lawyer, told The New York Times that McClain is coopering fully with the investigation and “strenuously denies that she did anything improper.”
Addressing the allegations on Twitter, McClain posted the following message: “There’s unequivocally no truth to these claims. We’ve been going through a painful, personal separation that’s now unfortunately in the media. I appreciate the outpouring of support and will reserve comment until after the investigation. I have total confidence in the IG process.”
McClain boarded the International Space Station in December 2018 and spent six months there in preparation for NASA’s first women-only spacewalk. The spacewalk, which McClain was due to perform with fellow astronaut Christina H. Koch, was cancelled in March 2019 after NASA couldn’t provide both women with spacesuits that fit.
Before joining NASA’s astronaut corps in 2013, McClain was a helicopter pilot in the army and flew 216 combat missions in Iraq. McClain later served as battalion operations manager and Kiowa helicopter instructor pilot at Fort Rucker, Alabama.