Astronaut commits ‘first crime in space’
Decorated NASA astronaut Anne McClain is accused of stealing her estranged wife's identity and improperly accessing her bank account while Ms McClain was on a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station - likely the first crime ever committed in space, the New York Post reports.
The wife, Summer Worden, a former Air Force intelligence officer who lives in Kansas, and Ms McClain have been locked in an ugly divorce since 2018 that includes a nasty parenting dispute over Worden's 6-year-old son, whom Ms McClain was helping to raise before their split, the New York Times reported.
Ms Worden never consented to Ms McClain adopting the boy, who was a year old when they met in 2014.
Ms McClain was supposed to be part of NASA's first all-female space walk in March before it was cancelled for a lack of properly fitting spacesuits.
Though Ms Worden filed for divorce in 2018, Ms McClain continued to ask her highly detailed questions about her financial life, Ms Worden claims. That led Ms Worden to have her bank check into who had recently accessed her bank account, and the bank found access from a NASA computer network, according to reports.
"I was shocked and appalled at the audacity by her to think that she could get away with that, and I was very disheartened that I couldn't keep anything private," Ms Worden told NBC News.
Ms McClain, in an under-oath interview with NASA's inspector general, said she accessed the bank account from space to make sure Ms Worden had enough money to pay the bills as she always has, using a password she's had for some time.
"She strenuously denies that she did anything improper," said her lawyer, Rusty Hardin, who said the astronaut "is totally co-operating."
The accusations against Ms McClain have brought to light the face that she is apparently the first acknowledged gay astronaut. She had never openly acknowledged her relationship with Ms Worden and was not publicly out as a lesbian before the legal tussle.
Ms Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, was a lesbian but that wasn't public until her 2012 death.
McClain, a West Point graduate who joined the astronaut program in 2013 after flying more than 800 combat hours in Iraq, remains a lieutenant colonel in the Army.
Stars and Stripes reported this week that she is on a list of candidates NASA is considering to be the first woman on the moon. NASA previously said the first female astronaut will make such a mission by 2024.
This story first appeared in the New York Post and has been republished here with permission.