NASA is investigating a claim that an astronaut accessed the bank account of her estranged spouse from the International Space Station, in what may be the first allegation of a crime committed in space.
According to The New York Times, US officer Anne McClain has been accused of illegally accessing her estranged partner’s bank account while aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
McClain spent six months aboard the ISS and had been due to feature in the first all-female spacewalk, but her role was cancelled at the last minute over what NASA said was a problem with availability of correct suit sizes. McClain has since returned to Earth.
Her estranged spouse, Summer Worden, reportedly filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
The astronaut told the New York Times through a lawyer that she was merely making sure that the family’s finances were in order and there was enough money to pay bills and care for Ms Worden’s son – who they had been raising together prior to the split.
Investigators from NASA’s Office of Inspector General have contacted both over the allegation, the New York Times reported.
There are five national or international space agencies involved in the ISS – from the US, Canada, Japan, Russia and several European countries – and a legal framework sets out that national law applies to any people and possessions in space.
So, if a Canadian national were to commit a crime in space, they would be subject to Canadian law, and a Russian citizen to Russian law.
Space law also sets out provisions for extradition back on Earth, should a nation decide it wishes to prosecute a citizen of another nation for misconduct in space.