NASA investigating first allegation of a crime committed in space by astronaut

NASA astronauts Anne McClain (background) and Serena Auñón-Chancellor are pictured inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module aboard the International Space Station. McClain watched as Auñón-Chancellor trains on the robotics workstation ahead of the rendezvous and capture of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft on Dec. 8, 2018. NASA

Do we know how the law works in space? Probably NASA knows it better as the American space agency is investigating a claim that an astronaut Anne McClain, improperly accessed the bank account of her estranged spouse when she was in the International Space Station (ISS). After the criminal allegations surfaced, it became the first case of an alleged crime which was committed in space.

McClain's estranged spouse, Summer Worden, former Air Force intelligence officer reportedly filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission stating that the astronaut had committed identity theft, despite not seeing any indication of siphoning off or using the funds.

Later Worden's parents brought another complaint with NASA's Office of Inspector General and stated that the astronaut illegally accessed Worden's private financial records and conducted a "highly calculated and manipulative campaign" to win the custody battle of Worden's son.

"I was pretty appalled that she would go that far. I knew it was not OK," Worden said, while as per the New York Times, Rusty Hardin, who is currently handling McClain's case said that "she strenuously denies that she did anything improper" and "is totally cooperating."

The 40-year-old McClain took it to Twitter and said, "I have total confidence in the IG process."

The inspector general (IG) conducted a questioning with the NASA astronaut under oath last week. During the interview, McClain claimed that she is only continuing existing behaviour that her spouse had approved to manage the family's finances.

McClain and Worden got married in 2014 and the astronaut's spouse filled for the divorce case in 2018. The alleged accused went on to qualify as a test pilot and was chosen to fly for NASA in 2013. reported that NASA officials said, "McClain has an accomplished military career and 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. Like with all NASA employees, NASA does not comment on personal or personnel matters."

So how the law works beyond earth?

There are five national and international space agencies, which include the US, Canada, Japan, Russia and several European countries, in ISS. As per the law, a legal framework sets out that national law applies to anyone in space.

As an example, if an American astronaut commits a crime in space, he or she would be subject to US law and the same for other astronauts.

Related topics : Nasa