It is being reported that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is investigating an allegation that an astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) improperly accessed the bank account of her estranged spouse, which looks to be the first allegation of criminal activity from space.

The alleged wrongdoing appears to have occurred amid a bitter divorce between two women.

Summer Worden, a former Air Force intelligence officer living in Kansas, has been in the midst of a bitter separation and parenting dispute for much of the past year. So she was surprised when she noticed that her estranged spouse still seemed to know things about her spending. Had she bought a car? How could she afford that?

Ms. Worden put her intelligence background to work, asking her bank about the locations of computers that had recently accessed her bank account using her login credentials. The bank got back to her with an answer: One was a computer network registered to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Ms. Worden’s spouse, Anne McClain, was a decorated NASA astronaut on a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station. She was about to be part of NASA’s first all-female spacewalk. But the couple’s domestic troubles on Earth, it seemed, had extended into outer space.

Worden subsequently brought a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), claiming that McClain had committed identity theft. Then Worden’s parents brought a second complaint to NASA’s Office of Inspector General, accusing McClain of improperly accessing private financial records to conduct a “highly calculated and manipulative campaign” to win custody of Worden’s son.

NASA’s Office of Inspector General has interviewed the two women.

…McClain reportedly claimed in an interview with the watchdog under oath last week that she is only continuing behavior that Worden had approved to handle the family’s finances, the paper reported.

McClain and Worden filed for divorce in 2018 after about four years of marriage, separating after McClain accused her spouse of assault. Worden told The Times that she believed the allegation was part of a longstanding attempt to gain custody of her son. Worden denied committing assault and the case was later dismissed.

Worden did not discover the bank account access until a few months after the assault claim, after McClain had already gone to space.

NASA told The Times that the accusations against McClain played no role in the agency’s decision to cancel the historic spacewalk, adding that the agency did not know of any crimes that had been committed on the ISS.

We have reported that the Trump administration is weighing a Moon mission, perhaps with the intention of putting astronauts on the lunar south pole. Interestingly, McClain was mentioned in an article considering the question as to who might be the first woman on the Moon via the Artemis Program.

With the ambitious goal to launch this lunar mission by 2024, people have started to speculate about who might be the first woman to walk on the moon. Of the 38 active astronauts in NASA’s astronaut corps, 12 are women, and another five are in the class that will wrap up astronaut training this year, for a total of 17 potential moonwalkers.

…McClain conducted two space walks during her six months in space. McClain happens to be the youngest member of the astronaut corps and completed over 2,000 flight hours in 20 different aircraft with the Army before becoming an astronaut.

For the sake of the child and our burgeoning space program, I hope there is a good resolution to this troubling case.

 
 
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