Officials are investigating what could be the first crime committed in space, after a decorated NASA astronaut was accused of improperly gaining access to her wife’s bank account while orbiting the planet during a heated divorce.
Astronaut Anne McClain took to Twitter this weekend to deny the claims made by her estranged wife, Summer Worden.
“There’s unequivocally no truth to these claims,” she wrote. “We’ve been doing through a painful, personal separation that’s now unfortunately in the media.”
Worden filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and NASA’s Office of Inspector General in which she accuses McClain of identity theft and improperly accessing Worden’s bank account while McClain had been in space as part of a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station, according to The New York Times.
Worden, who lives in Kansas, claims she began to grow suspicious after her estranged wife seemed to have specific knowledge about her spending habits. She asked her bank to identify the locations of the computers that had logged into her account and discovered one was registered to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
“I was pretty appalled that she would go that far. I knew it was not O.K.,” Ms. Worden said, according to the paper.
But through her attorney, McClain has denied that there was anything malicious about the log-in. In an interview with the inspector general, conducted under oath, she admitted to logging into the account, but claimed she was just checking on the family’s finances to ensure they had enough money to care for Worden’s 6-year-old child that the couple had been raising together.
Attorney Rusty Hardin said his client had previously logged into the account using the same password without any complaint from Worden during the marriage, and never received notice that she needed to stop accessing the account.
In her Twitter post this weekend, McClain said she had “total confidence” in the inspector general’s process and thanked the public for the outpouring of support she had received since the allegations were made public.
McClain, who is also a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, is an accomplished member of the NASA team. In June, she returned to Earth after spending 204 days in space during her mission aboard the International Space Station, Space Magazine reports.
She also made headlines earlier this year—even gaining the attention of Saturday Night Live—when NASA called off plans for McClain and Christina Koch to be on the first all-female spacewalk at the space station. The plans were halted after NASA said the team lacked appropriately-sized spacesuits that would fit the two women.
While the investigation into the claims made by Worden continues, NASA released a statement to Space Magazine praising the astronaut.
“Lt. Col. Anne McClain has an accomplished military career, flew combat mission in Iraq and is one of NASA’s top astronauts,” they said. “She did a great job on her most recent NASA mission aboard the International Space Station. Like with all NASA employees, NASA does not comment on personnel matters.”
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