A NASA astronaut is accused of hacking her estranged spouse's bank account from space.
Anne McClain, whom the space agency says is "one of NASA's top astronauts," allegedly accessed the bank account of her estranged spouse, Summer Worden, while aboard the International Space Station earlier this year, according to NBC affiliate KPRC in Houston.
The two women are in the process of a divorce and battling over custody of a 6-year-old son, Worden told KPRC. She said she conceived the boy through in vitro fertilization and carried by a surrogate.
Worden, who according to The New York Times is a former Air Force intelligence officer living in Kansas, said her son was a year old when she met McClain. The women got married in 2014, the Times reported. After about three years, they began having difficulties, Worden told KPRC.
“I protect my son with everything I have. That is my No. 1 priority, but I didn't sense at that time that she was anybody that I needed to protect him against. I trusted her,” said Worden,
In 2018, McClain asked a judge to grant her shared parenting rights of the child, saying in court documents that she had been "there for his first steps and first words" and that they had “a very healthy and deep parental relationship."
McClain talked to the "Today" show in May 2018 about parenting as an astronaut and her upcoming trip later in the year to the International Space Station.
The court battle between the women has included an allegation that Worden assaulted McClain, an accusation that was eventually dropped. Worden says the two have never had a physical altercation, KPRC reported.
Then, earlier this year McClain allegedly accessed Worden's bank account while the astronaut was at the space station.
Worden said her bank “did give evidence to my attorneys that she did access my bank accounts,” according to KPRC. “I was shocked and appalled at the audacity by her to think that she could get away with that, and I was very disheartened that I couldn't keep anything private.”
Worden's attorneys wrote to the NASA Office of Inspector General in July this year about the alleged breach.
Her attorney could not immediately be reached for comment. A copy of the letter obtained by KPRC gives computer details to show that McClain accessed Worden's bank account a few times from a NASA computer in January and February.
An attorney representing McClain, Rusty Hardin, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Hardin said in a statement to KPRC, “Family cases are extremely difficult and private matters for all parties involved. Neither Anne nor we will be commenting on this personal matter. We appreciate the media's understanding and respect, as maintaining privacy, is in the best interest of the child and family members involved.”
He told The New York Times that McClain was merely checking the account to make sure the family’s finances were in order.
“She strenuously denies that she did anything improper,” Hardin said, adding that McClain continued using a password for the account she had used before and that she had never been informed by Worden that the account was off limits.
McClain denied the accusations in a statement posted on Twitter on Sunday, saying she had complete faith that an investigation by the inspector general.
"There’s unequivocally no truth to these claims," McClain said. "We’ve been going through a painful, personal separation that’s now unfortunately in the media. I appreciate the outpouring of support and will reserve comment until after the investigation. I have total confidence in the IG process."
In a statement to NBC News, NASA praised McClain but said it cannot comment on personal matters.
"Lt Col. Anne McClain has an accomplished military career, 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."
The space agency added that McClain launched to space in Dec. 3, 2018, and returned to Earth on June 24, 2019.
Worden said the divorce between her and McClain is to be finalized in October and that no court date has been set in the custody case.