The New York Times reported on what could be the first crime committed in outer space.
Decorated NASA astronaut Anne McClain is being accused of identity theft during her six-month mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS), The Times said.
Her estranged spouse Summer Worden—a former Air Force intelligence officer—asked her bank to find out the locations of computers that used her login credentials in order to access her spending records.
The bank got back to Worden with information indicating that a network registered with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was used.
.@NASA is investigating what may be the first crime in outer space, with astronaut Anne McClain accused of identity… https://t.co/iuBdUXvScw— AFP news agency (@AFP news agency)1566709847.0
Times wrote that McClain did acknowledge accessing Worden's account from space and insisted through a lawyer she was "merely shepherding the couple's still-intertwined finances."
Having returned to terra firma, McClain spoke while under-oath for an interview and explained she was making sure there were sufficient funds in Worden's account for child care expenses for Worden's son they were both raising together.
The child was born a year before the two met.
McClain has always kept track of their finances during their relationship, and Worden never gave confirmation on the account's recent off-limits status according to the astronaut.
Worden filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, and her family filed another complaint with NASA's Office of Inspector General accusing McClain of improper access to her financial records and identity theft.
"I was pretty appalled that she would go that far. I knew it was not O.K."
People raised questions about the legitimacy of the law violation from space.
@AFP @NASA there are no laws in space— future corpse arson wells (@future corpse arson wells)1566723117.0
@MopeyDeath @AFP @NASA If she did it while outside of the space station this could actually be something that could get her off the hook. 🤔— Gent Lemann (@Gent Lemann)1566726619.0
@GentThePenguin @MopeyDeath @AFP @NASA The crime happened where the account is located.— Hcc (@Hcc)1566728499.0
@Sara_Jo_Blevins If a crime is committed in space who has jurisdiction to my knowledge there is no space court, Maritime law perhaps?— Mark Humes Visual Artist (@Mark Humes Visual Artist)1566709954.0
The FTC has not yet responded to Worden's identity theft claim, but an inspector with NASA's Office of Inspector General is looking into the case.
McClain came forward to refute Worden's accusations.
There’s unequivocally no truth to these claims. We’ve been going through a painful, personal separation that’s now… https://t.co/m9NbaHgmgV— Anne McClain (@Anne McClain)1566679802.0
@AstroAnnimal Having followed your adventures on the ISS, I’m truly sad to hear of your earthbound troubles, and I… https://t.co/eygEgfxbDP— Chris Klugewicz (@Chris Klugewicz)1566680329.0
People injected some levity into the uncharted territory of this alleged cosmic crime.
@AFP @NASA Crime in outer space? I prefer Galactic Violation.— Billy Keeling (@Billy Keeling)1566723127.0
@AFP @NASA If this goes the distance it’s a lightyear in jail— Freeman (@Freeman)1566721818.0
@AFP @NASA Transferring money to an off-planet account. Daaang— Chula Mula (@Chula Mula)1566721258.0
@AFP @NASA If I committed the first crime in outer space I would definitely own it. Being the first galactic crimin… https://t.co/Dfz5jUjJ0P— Kane (@Kane)1566723104.0
@AFP @NASA Summer Warden: WHAT ON EARTH HAVE YOU DONE TO MY BANK ACCOUNT?! Anne McClain: https://t.co/bDze1xzMlD— THE NIGHT ELM ON MARE STREET. (@THE NIGHT ELM ON MARE STREET.)1566722185.0
@AFP @NASA well somebody just became the answer to a trivia question— gnarlygale (@gnarlygale)1566710757.0
Mark Sundahl, director of the Global Space Law Center at Cleveland State University, told The Times he was not aware of any previous criminal wrongdoings in outer space.
But he did caution that there are consequences for committing crimes regardless of location.
"Just because it's in space doesn't mean it's not subject to law."
The Times explained:
"One potential issue that could arise with any criminal case or lawsuit over extraterrestrial bank communications, Mr. Sundahl said, is discovery: NASA officials would be wary of opening up highly sensitive computer networks to examination by lawyers, for example. But those sorts of legal questions, he said, are going to be inevitable as people spend more time in outer space."
McClain's attempt to adopt Worden's child, even after they were married in 2014, was a contributing factor to their rocky relationship.
Because McClain claimed her then-wife had an explosive temper and was being irresponsible with their finances, she asked a judge from the Houston area to grant her shared parenting rights in 2018 and "the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child" if the couple could not come to a mutual agreement.
In 2018, Worden filed for divorce after McClain accused her of assault.
Worden denied the accusation and the case was later dismissed.
I have zero interest in sharing this story on the basis of the personal matter of disputing parties (it’s actually… https://t.co/NQ7yvbY3fG— Rami Mandow 🏳️🌈 (@Rami Mandow 🏳️🌈)1566603896.0
Many would remember McClain made national headlines previously for being appointed to an
all-women's spacewalk as a part of Expedition 59 alongside fellow astronaut Christina Koch.
However, NASA suddenly revoked McClain's position from the ISS spacewalk days before the historic mission was to take place on March 29, citing there were not enough spacesuits in the two women's sizes.
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