Contentious Divorce May Have Led Astronaut to Commit Crimes From Space

Where identity theft and the International Space Station converge

The International Space Station
The International Space Station in 2011.
NASA/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / August 25, 2019 8:15 am

Earlier this year, astronaut Anne McClain was scheduled to participate in a historic event: the first all-female spacewalk. Plans for this were scuttled, however, because NASA didn’t have two spacesuits suitable for McClain and fellow astronaut Christina Koch. This was not a particularly great moment for the space agency, and led to a Saturday Night Live sketch mocking the shortage of suitable spacesuits.

As it turns out, a lack of NASA preparedness may be the least of McClain’s problems. 

The New York Times has reported that the astronaut is now being investigated for hacking into the bank accounts of her spouse, Summer Worden, from the International Space Station. The couple’s relationship was not doing well when McClain left for space; Worden noticed that someone other than herself had been logging in to her bank’s online portal. As the article describes it: 

“Ms. McClain acknowledged that she had accessed the bank account from space, insisting through a lawyer that she was merely shepherding the couple’s still-intertwined finances. Ms. Worden felt differently. She filed a complaint with the Federal TradeCommission and her family lodged one with NASA’s Office of Inspector General, accusing Ms. McClain of identity theft and improper access to Ms. Worden’s private financial records.

While hacking into your estranged spouse’s personal accounts from space is certainly an unexpected maneuver, hacking into the personal accounts of someone with a military intelligence background—Worden worked for the Air Force in exactly that capacity—may also not be the greatest of ideas. Worden quickly realized that something was wrong, and used her skills to deduce just what was amiss. 

The article points out that this is only the most recent complex legal issue involving space travel—though it makes a very solid case that more investigations are inevitable as more people venture to space. Can Law & Order: Space Crimes Division be far behind? 

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