Star laws: what happens if you commit a crime in space?

Research output: Contribution to journalOnline ResourceResearch


NASA is reportedly investigating what could be the first ever alleged crime in space. Astronaut Anne McClain has been accused of accessing her estranged spouse’s bank account via the internet while on board the International Space Station (she denies the accusation).

This gives rise to the question: what criminal law, if any, applies in outer space? The short answer is that, for a US astronaut aboard the International Space Station with a US alleged victim, US criminal jurisdiction applies.

The long answer is more complicated, and set to become even more so with the advent of space tourism, space militarisation, and commercial activity. Human activity has increased in space, with at least 50 nations currently engaged in space activities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Conversation
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2019


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