NASA investigating first crime committed in space

The accusations include identity theft and improperly accessing of a bank account

NASA's astronaut Anne McClain

NASA astronaut Anne McClain is at the center of what may be the first-ever crime committed in space. On Friday, The New York Times reported that McClain’s estranged wife, Summer Worden, discovered that someone had improperly accessed her bank account while McClain was on a sixth-month mission aboard the International Space Station - and the computer network that person used was registered to NASA.

According to the NYT’s story, Worden has since filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission accusing McClain of “identity theft and improper access to Worden’s private financial records,” while her family has filed a complaint with NASA’s Office of Inspector General. During an under-oath interview with the Inspector General, McClain admitted that she accessed the bank account, but said she had Worden’s permission to do so.

It might seem odd that the first space crime accusation has nothing in particular to do with space — it’s the type of marital dispute that happens regularly here on Earth. However, Mark Sundahl, director of the Global Space Law Center at Cleveland State University, sees the allegation as an expected development given humanity’s increasing number of off-world endeavors.

“The more we go out there and spend time out there,” he told the NYT, “all the things we do here are going to happen in space.”

Anne McClain, who returned to Earth in June, gained fame for being one of two women picked for a historic all-female spacewalk, but NASA scrapped the planned walk in March due to a lack of well-fitting spacesuits, sparking accusations of sexism.

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