Houston, TX – Astronaut Anne McClain is the first American to ever be accused of committing a crime from space.
McClain, a West Point graduate who maintains her U.S. Army rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) space program, has been going through a nasty divorce from her wife, former Air Force Intelligence Officer Summer Worden, CBS News reported.
Worden has accused McClain of accessing her estranged wife’s bank account without permission from the International Space Station while she was on a six-month mission.
“I was pretty appalled that she would go that far. I knew it was not okay,” Worden told The New York Times.
She said she became suspicious when her soon-to-be-ex-wife knew details of her spending from space and had the bank track down where the logins to her account were coming from, CBS News reported.
McClain has acknowledged that she accessed the bank accounts but said she was just checking the couple’s finances to make sure there was enough spending money in the accounts for Worden and their four-year-old son, The New York Times reported.
Worden disputed McClain’s claim and has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Her family filed a complaint against McClain with the NASA’s Office of the Inspector General that accused the astronaut of identity theft and improperly accessing Worden’s private financial records, The New York Times reported.
“There’s unequivocally no truth to these claims,” McClain tweeted on Sunday. “We’ve been going through a painful, personal separation that’s now unfortunately in the media. I appreciate the outpouring of support and will reserve comment until after the investigation. I have total confidence in the IG process.”
McClain, who is back on earth, submitted to an interview under oath with the inspector general, The New York Times reported.
“She strenuously denies that she did anything improper,” McClain’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, said.
Hardin said the astronaut “is totally cooperating” and said his client had only done the same thing she’d done through the rest of their relationship and pointed out that she had been using her previous password for access to the accounts, The New York Times reported.
At the heart of the dispute is a two-year custody battle that has made the couple’s divorce even nastier than usual.
Worden refused to allow McClain to adopt her child born a year before the couple met, even after the two were married in 2014, The New York Times reported.
While the couple was still married in 2018, McClain went to court to try to get shared parenting rights and “the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child” if she and Worden could not agree.
McClain sought to “legally validate my established and deep parental relationship” with Worden’s son, The New York Times reported.
She told the court that her wife had an explosive temper and had been making bad financial decisions.
McClain also posted a since-deleted picture of herself in her space suit with the boy on Twitter with the message “The hardest part about training for space is the 4 yr old I have to leave behind every time I walk out the door.”
Worden was furious because she didn’t want her estranged wife claiming to be the mother of her child, The New York Times reported.
She filed for divorce in 2018 after McClain accused her of assault, a charge that was later dismissed.
A few months later, McClain was launched into space on an extended mission and shortly thereafter, Worden became suspicious that her estranged wife was snooping in her finances.
McClain, who flew more than 800 hours during Operation Iraqi Freedom, showed no outward signs of trouble during the remainder of her space mission, The New York Times reported.
She has more than 2,000 flight hours in 20 different aircraft, including the Black Hawk helicopter and the C-12 Huron transport plane, according to Stars and Stripes.
McClain got her degree at West Point in mechanical/aeronautical engineering and later went to England to get master’s degrees in aerospace engineering and international relations from the Universities of Bath and Bristol.
A list compiled by NASA showed that the lieutenant colonel is on the list of 12 female astronauts who could become the first woman on the moon by 2024, Stars and Stripes reported.
Earlier this year, McClain was slated to participate in the first-ever all female spacewalk but that initiative was cancelled after NASA determined there weren’t enough space suits in the right size to pull it off, CBS News reported.
"Lt Col. Anne McClain has an accomplished military career, flew combat missions in Iraq and is one of NASA's top astronauts," NASA said in a written statement to CBS News. "She did a great job on her most recent NASA mission aboard the International Space Station."
Investigators from NASA’s inspector general’s office have reportedly been exploring the allegations against the astronaut.
The FTC has not commented on whether it is investigating Worden’s complaint, CBS News reported.