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How a bitter divorce fight on earth led to allegations of a crime in space

Summer Worden, a former Air Force intelligence officer in Kansas, has been in a bitter dispute over separation and parenting for most of last year. She was surprised when she realized that her alienated spouse still seemed to know things about her expenses. Did she buy a car? How could she afford it? Worden turned on her intelligence background and asked her bank about the locations of the computers that had recently accessed their bank account credentials. The bank answered with the answer: One was a computer network registered with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

wife. Worden's wife Anne McClain was a distinguished NASA astronaut on a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station. She was about to become part of NASA's first all-female spacewalk. But the couple's domestic problems on Earth seemed to have spread into space.

McClain acknowledged that she had accessed the bank account from space, insisting that a solicitor only blame her for the couple's finances. Mrs. Worden felt different. She filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, and her family filed a complaint with the NASA Office of Inspector General. She accused Ms. McClain of identity theft and inadmissible access to Ms. Worden's private financial records. Turn to Ms. Worden and Ms. McClain to investigate what may be the first allegations of crime in space.

"I was pretty appalled that she would go that far. I knew it was not okay, "said Mrs. Worden.

The space agency's five Space Agencies – from the US, Russia, Japan, Europe, and Canada – have long-established procedures to answer any jurisdictional issues as astronauts from different nations orbit the Earth together. However, Mark Sundahl, director of the Global Space Law Center at Cleveland State University, said he has no previous allegation of a crime committed in space. NASA officials said they knew nothing about crimes committed on the space station.

wife. McClain, now back on Earth, underwent an affidavit last week with the Inspector General. She claims that she only did with the permission of Ms. Worden, which she had always done to ensure that the family's finances were in order.

"She denies that she did anything wrong," her lawyer Rusty Hardin said. which added that the astronaut "totally cooperates."

Mr. According to Hardin, the Bank's access from space was an attempt to ensure that Mrs. Worden's account had enough funds to pay bills and care for the child they raised. Ms. McClain did the same throughout the relationship, he said with the full knowledge of Ms. Worden. Ms. McClain continued to use the password she had previously used and never heard from Mrs. Worden that the account was now locked.

A complaint about bank access from the space station is just one of several complex complaints Legal issues that have emerged in the age of routine spaceflight and are expected with the onset of space tourism.

In 2011, NASA organized a stabbing operation against a widow of a space engineer who wanted to sell a moonstone. In 2013, a Russian satellite was damaged after colliding with the debris of a satellite that China had destroyed in a 2007 missile test. In 2017, an Austrian businessman sued a space company to recover his bail for a planned trip that did not progress.

"Just because it's in space does not mean that it's not under the law," Sundahl said

A potential problem that could arise in a criminal case or suit for alien bank communication, according to Sundahl the discovery: NASA officials would be wary of opening up highly sensitive computer networks for lawyers' scrutiny. But such legal issues, he said, will be inevitable if people spend more time in space.

The couple's quarrel was mainly about the son of Mrs. Worden, who was born about a year before their meeting. [19659002] woman. Worden, who previously worked for the National Security Agency, refused to allow Ms. McClain to adopt the child, even after they were married at the end of 2014.

In early 2018, when the couple was still married, Ms. McClain went to a local court in the Houston area to ask a judge to give her the right to common parenting and the "exclusive right to have the child's primary residence determine if the parties were unable to reach an agreement according to the records. She claimed that Ms. Worden had an explosive temper and bad financial decisions, and she wanted the court to "legally validate my existing and deep parental relationship with the boy."

At the same time, Ms. McClain apparently had published official NASA photos – now deleted – on her Twitter account, smiling in her astronaut suit next to Mrs. Worden's son. "The hardest thing about training for space is that every time I go out the door, I have to leave behind the 4-year-old child," she wrote.

The attention of social media further aggravated Ms. Worden when she did not. I want Ms. McClain to claim to be the child's mother. Later in 2018, Ms. Worden filed for divorce after Ms. McClain accused her of her injury – something that Ms. Worden denies and considers her to be part of Ms. McClain's attempt to take control of the child. The attack case was later rejected.

Several months later, after Ms. McClain left for the Space Station, her quarrel escalated further. Mrs. Worden noticed the banking problem. And when NASA learned of their concerns, the local officials immediately approached Ms. McClain, who fired an e-mail to Ms. Worden.

"You explicitly mentioned the threat of emails from orbiting and access to bank accounts – not sure where this information came from," wrote Ms. McClain in an email to Ms. Worden.

Despite the turmoil Ms. McClain showed no outward signs of problems on the space station, a native of Spokane, Washington, a celebrated leader with an excellent past – a West Point graduate who became an officer and completed more than 800 combat hours on Operation Iraqi Freedom before joining in 2013 She remains NASA Army Lieutenant Colonel, and Stars and Stripes reported this week that she's on a list of candidates who see NASA become the first woman on the moon.

In the days after Ms. McClain became one By emailing Ms. Worden, Ms. Worden filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, in which Ms. McClain was accused of identity thieves Although she did not see any indication that someone had moved or used the funds in the account.

McClain, meanwhile, gained national attention for another reason. NASA advocated the imminent milestone of a purely female spacewalk, during which Ms. McClain was to work outside the space station with her astronomer colleague Christina Koch. In a sudden change a few days before the spacewalk, NASA scrapped the role of Ms. McCain, explaining that there were not enough suits available in the size of the two women.

"Saturday Night Live" spiked the agency with actress Aidy Bryant portraying a disappointed Ms. McClain whose dreams were dashed by poor NASA planning.

A NASA spokeswoman, Megan Sumner, said the spacewalk decision was not influenced by any allegations about Ms. McClain. Ms Sumner declined to comment on the other issues raised by Ms Worden.

In the days before Ms. McClain returned from space in June, Ms. Worden's parents sent a detailed letter to the NASA Inspectorate detailing what they described as Mrs. McClain's "highly calculated and manipulative campaign." to gain custody of the child. In the letter they contained the claim of bank account extrusion.

Over the past few days, Michael Mataya, an investigator specializing in criminal matters at the NASA Inspectorate General, and another official have been investigating the issue, Ms. Worden and her mother said. Mr. Mataya declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman. The Trade Commission has not responded to the Identity Theft report, Ms. Worden said.

Domestic strife in space may be the first such investigation, but it is unlikely to be the last.

"The more we go out and spend time out there," Sundahl said, "all the things we do here will happen in space. "

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