The Slatest

NASA Reportedly Investigating First Allegation of a Crime in Space

Ground personnel help NASA astronaut Anne McClain to get out of the Soyuz MS-11 capsule shortly after landing in a remote area outside the town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on June 25, 2019.
Ground personnel help NASA astronaut Anne McClain to get out of the Soyuz MS-11 capsule shortly after landing in a remote area outside the town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on June 25, 2019.
ALEXANDER NEMENOV/Getty Images

NASA is investigating what appears to be the first allegation of criminal wrongdoing in space with allegations that an astronaut accessed her estranged spouse’s bank account from the International Space Station, reports the New York Times. Summer Worden filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission after she realized that her estranged spouse, Anne McClain, had accessed her bank account while the two were locked in a bitter battle over divorce and custody. Worden’s parents, meanwhile, filed a letter with NASA’s Office of Inspector General, accusing McClain of carrying out a “highly calculated and manipulative campaign” to win custody of Worden’s child.

McClain acknowledged to investigators she had accessed the bank account while she was aboard the ISS. But she insists there was nothing nefarious about her actions and she was just keeping tabs on their finances as she had done throughout the relationship. “I was pretty appalled that she would go that far. I knew it was not O.K.,” Worden said. But McClain’s lawyer insists “she strenuously denies that she did anything improper” and is cooperating with authorities.

McClain and Worden got married in 2014 and Worden filed for divorce in 2018. The divorce papers were filed after McClain accused Worden of assault, which Worden portrayed as the latest move in a long-standing effort by McClain to gain custody of her son. Worden’s son was born a year before the pair even met and she reportedly pushed back against McClain’s efforts to adopt the child. Meanwhile, McClain also posted official NASA photos on her Twitter account showing her alongside Worden’s son, describing leaving him behind as the hardest part of being an astronaut. She has since deleted those photos.

McClain was supposed to be part of what had been a much anticipated first all-female spacewalk. NASA later scrapped those plans, claiming there were not enough suits to include McClain in the spacewalk. NASA denies the spacewalk decision had anything to do with the complaint that was filed on Earth.