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NASA astronaut accused of space crime rebuts allegations

Anne McClain is accused of identity theft and accessing private financial records from the International Space Station.

Expedition 58/59 main crew prepares for launch at Baikonur Cosmodrome

Anne McClain during a spacesuit check prior to launching to the ISS.

Sergei Savostyanov/Getty

NASA astronaut Anne McClain, who spent 203 days in space aboard the International Space Station earlier this year, has been accused of identity theft and improperly accessing the private financial records of her estranged spouse, according to a report by The New York Times. McClain, a lieutenant colonel in the US Army, served as the flight engineer for Expedition 58/59 to the ISS and was set to be part of the first all-female spacewalk. It was during her time aboard the station that she allegedly accessed the bank account of Summer Worden.

McClain and Worden had been married since 2014. Worden filed for divorce in 2018, months before McClain was set to launch on a six-month mission to the space station. McClain, through her lawyer, acknowledged she did access the bank account from the space station using a password that she had used previously.

Her lawyer told the Times that "she strenuously denies that she did anything improper." The access was used to ensure care for Worden's son, who the couple had been raising together. Worden filed a complaint alleging identity theft with both the Federal Trade Commission and NASA's Office of Inspector General.

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The Space Station Agreement, signed by the US and 14 other governments involved in the ISS, outlines the legal framework governing activities on the station. Each nation is legally responsible for their elements, equipment and personnel and for applying their own national laws in criminal matters.

The accusations are being investigated by the inspector general's office. McClain took to Twitter on Aug. 24 to rebut the claims, stating there's "unequivocally no truth" to them and that she has "total confidence" in the inspector general's investigation.

McClain was scheduled to perform the first all-female spacewalk in March with fellow astronaut Christina Koch, but the walk was scrubbed days before the historic EVA, due to a spacesuit sizing issue. NASA clarified at the time that McClain felt comfortable in a medium-size suit, but only one could be made available by the time of the planned walk. NASA said it would be faster and safer to change the walker, rather than the suit.

A spokeswoman for NASA told the Times the last-minute change was not influenced by the allegations made against McClain.

NASA didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.