One small crime for humankind may lead to one giant investigation for NASA. The US space agency is investigating what may be the first crime committed in outer space.
According to The New York Times, NASA is examining a claim that an astronaut improperly accessed the bank account of her estranged spouse from the International Space Station.
Astronaut Anne McClain is accused of identity theft and improperly accessing her estranged wife's private financial records while on a sixth-month mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS), the report said.
McClain's spouse Summer Worden, brought a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission that McClain had committed identity theft, despite not seeing any indication of moved or spent funds.
Worden, a former Air Force intelligence officer, filed the complaint earlier this year after learning McClain had accessed her bank account without permission. Worden's family has filed another with NASA's Office of Inspector General, according to the newspaper.
Meanwhile, McClain's lawyer said the astronaut had done nothing wrong and accessed the bank records while aboard the ISS in order to monitor the couple's combined finances - something she had done over the course of their relationship.
The lawyer said that McClain was monitoring the account to ensure the well-being of Worden's son, who they had been raising, using the same password to access the account as she had throughout their relationship.
NASA investigators have contacted both women, according to the newspaper.
McClain, who returned to Earth in June, gained fame for being one of two women picked for a historic all-female spacewalk, but NASA scrapped the planned walk in March due to a lack of well-fitting spacesuits, sparking accusations of sexism.
Worden said the FTC has not responded to the identity theft report, but that an investigator specializing in criminal cases with NASA's Office of Inspector General has been looking into the accusation, according to the Times.
The couple had married in 2014, and Worden filed for divorce in 2018 after McClain accused her of assault -- a move Worden contended was part of long-standing attempts by McClain to gain custody of her son. A few months later, McClain went to space, and Worden then discovered the bank account access, the paper reported.
(With PTI Inputs)