First Alleged Crime in Space

First Alleged Crime in Space


NASA is currently investigating what may be the first crime committed in space. Astronaut Anne McCain is accused of identity theft and improperly accessing her estranged wife’s financial records while on the International Space Station. 


McClain was accused of the crime while on her six-month mission on the International Space Station. Her wife, Summer Worden, says that McClain used NASA computers to hack into her bank account. Worden has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission that McClain had committed identity theft. Worden’s parents believe it was a “highly calculated and manipulated campaign” to obtain custody of Worden’s son. According to McCain she had every right to access the bank account, which she had been doing during the relationship.


McCain has since denied the allegations on Twitter, saying “There’s unequivocally no truth to these claims. We’ve been going through a painful, personal separation that’s now unfortunately in the media. I appreciate the outpouring of support and will reserve comment until after the investigation. I have total confidence in the IG process.”


This poses the question, what happens if you commit a crime in space? Space, like international waters, is not owned by any nation. However, space is governed by five international treaties; the Outer Space Treaty, the Rescue Agreement, the Liability Convention, the Registration Convention, and the Moon Agreement. The Outer Space Treaty is the one that deals with crimes. According to this, the criminal would be subject to the law of whatever country they are a citizen of.


The International Space Station (ISS) even has its own intergovernmental agreement, stating, “Canada, the European Partner States, Japan, Russia, and the United States may exercise criminal jurisdiction over personnel in or on any flight element who are their respective nationals.” So in short, since McCain is a United States citizen, she will be held to the US law.