NASA is investigating what is possibly the first allegation of a criminal act committed in space, according to reports.
A female astronaut has been accused of improperly accessing the bank account of her estranged spouse while aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
Astronaut Anne McClain told investigators she accessed the bank account while on a six-month mission aboard the ISS, a mission that was preparing her to take part in NASA’s first all-female spacewalk, the New York Times reported.
Summer Worden, McClain’s estranged spouse, filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission regarding the alleged crime. However, McClain denies any wrongdoing, according to the BBC.
The astronaut’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, told the New York Times that she accessed the account to make sure there was enough money to pay bills and care for Worden’s son whom the two had been raising together prior to their estrangement.
“She strenuously denies that she did anything improper,” Hardin said, adding that McClain was “totally co-operating.”
There are standards for those aboard the ISS, according to a Deutsche Welle report:
There are long-established regulations in place to deal with possible jurisdiction issues aboard the ISS, set up by the space agencies who maintain it in the US, Russia, Canada, Japan, and the European Union, but this is believed to be the first time they may ever have to be implemented.
Worden said she was “appalled” that McClain would access her bank account, adding, “I knew it was not OK.”
However, NASA officials said they knew of no crimes that were committed on the ISS, and NASA spokeswoman Megan Sumner told the New York Times that the allegations against McClain “were not a factor in the decision to ultimately cancel the spacewalk,” according to a report by CNN.