Someday, Someone Will Commit a Major Crime in Space

Add the word space before any mundane word, and suddenly it becomes way sexier. Space lawSpace marriage and babiesSpace archaeology! And most recently, in the news: space crime.

Dozens of news stories have speculated on what could have been the world’s first-ever space crime. In a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission and a letter to NASA, Summer Worden accused her estranged partner, astronaut Anne McClain, of identity theft. The two agree that McClain accessed Worden’s bank account while aboard the International Space Station. But McClain’s lawyer claims this is something McClain had always done throughout the couple’s relationship, and that McClain “strenuously denies that she did anything improper.” Authorities are still investigating the case.

As far as space crimes go, this scenario is pretty tame. Identity theft shouldn’t be taken lightly, but no one in this situation was in immediate danger—Worden doesn’t even suggest that McClain used or moved funds around—and thanks to an intergovernmental agreement signed in 1998 to support the International Space Station, it was obvious that the U.S. has jurisdiction in this situation. That agreement “makes very clear that if a crime is committed on the station, if it does not affect any other party. It remains the jurisdiction of the nation who committed the crime,” says Michelle Hanlon, a professor of air and space law at the University of Mississippi.

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