Canadian Astronauts Are No Longer Allowed To Commit Crimes In Space
A Criminal Code amendment in Canada means the country's astronauts will no longer be allowed to commit crimes in space.
I'm not sure exactly how popular crime is beyond the Earth's atmosphere, but the Canadian government clearly felt the need to crack down on it with the amendment in the legislation implementing Canada’s 2022 federal budget.
It came in preparation of Canada's involvement in the NASA mission Lunar Gateway, which will see the space agency establish a permanent space station in lunar orbit.
A proud history of space exploration. A bold new investment into the future. Canada’s plan to join the Lunar Gateway keeps us pushing for the final frontier. pic.twitter.com/ToIXhriLr8— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) March 3, 2019
The measure, included in the 443-page document which implements the provisions of the 2022 federal budget and cited by the Calgary Herald, explains: "A Canadian crew member who, during a space flight, commits an act or omission outside Canada that if committed in Canada would constitute an indictable offence is deemed to have committed that act or omission in Canada."
The fact that this amendment has been made suggests that until the implementation of the law Canadians would not technically have been doing anything wrong if they committed an act in space which is usually viewed as a crime on Earth. That's not to say they've been getting away with murder all this time, but it's reassuring to know that the new law means they never will.
Astronauts who board the International Space Station are already subject to criminal jurisdiction bound by the 1998 treaty creating the structure, which states anybody aboard the station is subject to the criminal jurisdiction of their home country.
If an astronaut commits a crime against an astronaut of a different country on board the ISS, the treaty advises each country involved to discuss their 'respective prosecutorial interests'.
The Canadian government has described Lunar Gateway as 'the next major international collaboration in human space exploration' which will send humans 'deeper into space than we have ever been'.
The structure is set to be approximately one-sixth the size of the ISS, and will act as "a science laboratory; a testbed for new technologies; a rendezvous location for exploration of the surface of the Moon; a mission control centre for operations on the Moon; and one day, a stepping stone for voyages to Mars."
Astronauts visiting the Gateway will be able to live and work there for up to three months at a time, with living quarters on board designed for crews of four astronauts. The structure will not be crewed continuously like the ISS, though it will be inhabited at least once a year.
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