A NASA astronaut allegedly accessed the bank account of her estranged spouse while aboard the International Space Station.
First Allegation Of A Crime Committed In Space
In what appears to be the first allegation of a crime committed in space, the case involves NASA astronaut Anne McClain, who the U.S. space agency says is one of its top astronauts.
McClain is accused of accessing the bank account of her estranged spouse Summer Worden, while she was aboard the ISS earlier this year.
The two women, who got married in 2014, are in the process of a divorce and battling the custody of 6-year-old son, who Worden conceived through in vitro fertilization and the child carried by a surrogate.
The court battle between the couple included allegations that Worden assaulted McClain, albeit the accusation was later dropped. Worden is now accusing McClain of accessing her bank account while at the space station.
Worden claimed her bank provided evidence to her lawyers that the astronaut accessed her accounts. Her lawyers then wrote to the NASA Office of Inspector General in July this year about the alleged breach.
A lawyer for McClain told the New York Times that the astronaut was merely making sure that the finances of the family were in order and there was enough money to pay the bills and care for Worden's son.
Lawyer Rusty Hardin said his client "strenuously denies" doing anything improper and the astronaut was "totally co-operating".
McClain is now back to Earth.
NASA declined to comment on the issue, saying this is a personal matter.
"Lt Col. Anne McClain has an accomplished military career, flew combat missions in Iraq and is one of NASA's top astronauts. She did a great job on her most recent NASA mission aboard the International Space Station," NASA said.
"Like with all NASA employees, NASA does not comment on personal or personnel matters."
Law For Crimes Committed In Space
A legal framework sets out that the national law applies to any person or possession in space. A Russian citizen, for instance, would be subject to Russian law if he were to commit a crime in space.
Space law also sets out provisions for extradition back on Earth if a nation decides to prosecute a citizen of another nation for misconduct committed in space.
The legal framework, however, remains untested.