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NASA investigates the first suspected space crime



  • NASA astronaut Anne McClain was charged with identity theft by her ex-wife.
  • The alleged crime was committed by a NASA computer on the International Space Station.
  • There are currently legal channels to resolve this dispute, but more outrageous or international space crimes are more difficult to reconcile.

It looks like the long arm of the law will extend into space. 40-year-old astronaut Anne McClain is the first person ever to be investigated for a crime allegedly occurring in space.

McClain is a NASA astronaut. The allegations were made by her ex-wife Summer Worden, who accused her of identity theft because she had accessed her bank account through a NASA computer. According to Worden, the crime was committed when McClain was on the International Space Station for six months.

Although this crime seems nonsensical compared to something like murder, it opens a lot of intrigues in space law. As more and more countries and private companies send people into space, the inevitability of future space crime (people are people, even in space) is almost guaranteed.

First Space Crime

Source: NASA

Originally filed by Worden with the Federal Trade Commission. According to The New York Times investigators are already investigating the situation. The Prosecutor believes that McClain used NASA technology to access Worden's bank account. McClain admits that it accessed the account, but denies any unlawful intent. She claims she only managed the couple's finances.

McClain was reportedly interviewed recently by investigators from the NASA Inspector General.

In the meantime, NASA has publicly spoken out to praise McClain's career, but declined to comment on the allegations. According to a statement sent to Space.com, NASA officials said:

"Lieutenant-Colonel Anne McClain has a successful military career, flew combat missions in Iraq, and is one of NASA's finest astronauts, and has done a great job in her last NASA mission As with all NASA staff, NASA does not comment on personal or personal matters. "

Even if they do not publicly comment on the matter, the matter is being handled by the US authorities. Since this is a legal dispute between two American citizens, this case allegedly falls within the jurisdiction of the United States. The situation would have been more complicated if it had been an international astronaut in space.

Although this case may be somewhat curtailed and dry, future space crimes could be a little dimmer.

Taking precedence over space law

There is currently no detailed framework for international space law, and there is not. There are criminal disputes on commercial spacecraft anyway. When it comes to disputes between individuals from different countries, this becomes even more unclear.

Our only space presence comes from the International Space Station, which is currently governed by an international treaty called the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) on Space Station Cooperation.

It states that in the area of ​​criminal justice, every country on the ISS or a country involved in it has criminal jurisdiction over its own people in space, as long as there is no conflict between anyone from another country. As far as our first space crime is concerned, both McClain and Worden are US citizens, which clarifies possible legal issues that might arise from our being in space.

"Canada, the European Partner States, Japan, Russia and the United States may exercise criminal jurisdiction for personnel in or on any flying elements that are their respective nationals."

In other areas of space, the law is not so clear. Currently, space is governed by five major international treaties known colloquially as the Space Treaty, Lunar Agreements, Registration Agreements, Rescue Agreements and Liability Agreements.

The protocol for an incident on a commercial space station between two different nationals is not really covered by any of these contracts. The Space Treaty, an agreement concluded between 109 governments over 50 years ago, has nothing to say on this issue.

With the exception that the jurisdiction and control of commercial companies or private entities that emanate from the original government, the responsibility of this government lies with the jurisdiction of the United States, "which deals with the treatment of criminal disputes outside the jurisdiction of a country. However, this law does not cover all types of crime.

Comprehensive international codes and laws must be worked out and worked out as space becomes more populous.

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