Government officials have never had much of a reason to worry about punishing troublemakers in outer space. However, that was before an astronaut was accused of committing a potential crime while on the International Space Station. The woman was apparently caught illegally accessing her wife’s bank account, sparking a massive debate about how matters like this should be addressed.
Whose Responsibility Is It?
Although this case is being handled by the US, future incidents might not fall so easily into one nation’s jurisdiction. Given there are hopes for things like space hotels in the future, there are bound to be residents from all across the globe making trips off the planet. With nation-states no longer able to make claims over space as a whole, it will be unclear who will take responsibility for dealing with the persecutors.
Rules Are Rules
Right now, there are certain rules in place to deal with specific incidents. For instance, when something happens on the ISS between people from different countries, their respective governments have to work together to negotiate a punishment. Moreover, the United States’ Outer Space Treaty essentially dictates that issues caused by US tourists are dealt with by the US.
Unfortunately, not everything is that clear. That’s why there’s growing talks about bringing the international community together and deciding how to deal with these matters. Things like the Outer Space Treaty might work to some extent, but there needs to be a framework in place that covers all eventualities.