First crime committed in space?

By mbrooks on August 24, 2019
International Space Station Orbiting Earth. 3D Illustration. (Getty Images)

By Matthew Brooks

The United States was the first nation to put a man on the moon. Now, it looks like the United States could be the first nation to have one of its citizens commit a crime in space.

The New York Times says NASA is investigating a crime that was allegedly committed by an American astronaut.

The investigation is looking into what did or didn’t happen aboard the International Space Station, or ISS.

Astronaut Anne McClain accessed a bank account from the space station. Accessing a bank account from space is legal.

McClain’s estranged spouse, Summer Worden, claims that McClain didn’t have the right to access the account.

Through her lawyer, McClain says she did nothing wrong.

McClain says was checking to make sure there was enough money to pay the bills. Worden and McClain had been raising a child together.

Improperly accessing a bank account constitutes identify theft.

NASA tries to prepare for every possibility in space. It turns out the earth-bound lawyers had prepared for this, too.

Lawyers with expertise in international law had not been able to test this legal framework until now.

Four nations plus the European Union occupy the ISS. These nations agree that any crime committed by someone in space will fall under the jurisdiction of his or her own nation.

Things would get more complicated for the untried space law if a person committed a crime against a citizen of another nation.

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