Cyber-stalking from 240 miles in the sky


"In space, no one can hear you…stalk?" That's the phrase that comes to mind as I sift through the sensationalist coverage of astronaut and decorated combat veteran Anne McClain's brief sojourn into the world of cyber-stalking. And while the act of checking up on an estranged spouse's financial activity is relatively common in a world where roughly half of all marriages (at least in Western countries) end up in divorce, the fact that Ms McClain chose to do so while orbiting the Earth at over 17,000 mph adds a degree of novelty to an otherwise mundane story.

Indeed, the purported "scene of the crime" introduces several new wrinkles to the matter, including under which jurisdiction her apparently illegal actions should fall. According to official sources, inhabitants of the International Space Station (ISS) are subject to the laws and regulations of their home countries. So, a Japanese astronaut is subject to Japanese law, a Russian to Russian law, etc.

As a US citizen, Ms McClain's actions are subject to US laws, specifically, those pertaining to "identity theft" (she accessed her soon to be ex-wife's bank account using the latter's login credentials without permission). Officials at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) were made aware of her alleged activities while she was still in space, though there is no evidence that the revelation -- which came just days before Ms McClain was scheduled to participate in the first all-woman spacewalk -- prompted NASA to cancel her groundbreaking mission (the official explanation is that they "just didn't have enough female spacesuits available").

In the end, Ms McClain returned to Earth and is now facing her legal problems on terra firma. But what if she hadn't come back? What if, after learning of the accusation and witnessing her dream accomplishment being plucked away for the inanest of reasons, she refused to leave the station (people have "snapped" over far less)? But, more importantly, is Hollywood listening?

Yes, that's where I’m going with this. Just like "diaper chick" from a few years back, this story has "Lifetime Channel made for TV movie" written all over it: "An accomplished astronaut is accused of a heinous crime back on Earth. She knows that if she returns to the ground she’ll be immediately taken into custody and thus be unable to search for the evidence that could exonerate her. So, she must fight to stay in space, using all her wit and technical skill to fend-off her misogynist ISS companions who she discovers have been secretly conspiring against her with an evil ground controller. They want to force her into a Soyuz capsule (cue: overtones about non-consent and violence towards women) for a return journey that she's convinced will be sabotaged just to silence her."

Just think about the visuals! You could have the mandatory spacewalk battle scene! The tense moment where the protagonist locks herself in one of the ISS modules and threatens to destroy the station! The emotional speech about misogyny and how the "real crime" here is Toxic Masculinity (right before she "blows the arrogant S.O.B. Russian astronaut out the airlock").

Come on, Hollywood! You know you this story is feminist gold! Just remember to give me a writing credit! Once again, my name is spelled…  Randall C. Kennedy.

Image Credit: The New York Public Library/

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