General Question

jtvoar16's avatar

Do laws extend into Outer Space?

Asked by jtvoar16 (2133 points ) March 26th, 2014

I was discussing this with a friend a little while ago. We were talking about the things we would like to do to the person who sexually assaulted her, when I mentioned exposing his naked hands to space. That would be a fitting punishment for him.

That’s when it hit me… Are there any laws that currently extend into space? I mean, is murder illegal in Outer Space? If there are laws, how far away from Earth would you have to be for those laws to cease control?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

30 Answers

talljasperman's avatar

No… it is like the international waters on Earth. Problem is that you might not be invited back… NASA’s official plan for a unruly passenger is duct tape , lots of duct tape.

Mimishu1995's avatar

Yes, if aliens use the same law as us too.

pleiades's avatar

Wait until you take astronomy 1 in college. By the details in your question I’m pretty damn sure your brain is going to ooze neon colored excitement hormones into you vertebrae. Oh also do it while your just high on MJ you will take the info in a lot more detailed and thus resulting in more mind blowing!

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I assure you the laws of physics extend out into space.

dxs's avatar

I’d say technically, it’s a free-for-fall out there. But Outer Space would murder you before anyone else could get to it.

jaytkay's avatar

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs says, “personnel of spacecraft in outer space are subject to the laws of the State of registry.”

link

XOIIO's avatar

@jaytkay
So,

Step 1: make spacecraft
Step 2: don’t register it.
Step 3: trick nemesis to come on board.
Step 4: kill nemesis when in space
Step 5: ???
Step 6: PROFIT!!!!!
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Step 7: Hide this secret the rest of your life.

Darth_Algar's avatar

You would be subject to the laws of whatever nation your spacecraft is registered in. So if you’re in a spacecraft of US registry you would be subject to US laws.

bolwerk's avatar

No. And do we really need whites going into space and telling everyone what to do? Fuck that.

zenvelo's avatar

Well since the Russians are the only one’s up there these days, and they’re basically a lawless society, you can get away with murder as long as the victim is not a buddy of Putin’s.

kritiper's avatar

Where humans go, the law of the particular country that governs that vessel, goes as well.

bolwerk's avatar

@kritiper: s/vessel/vassal!

kritiper's avatar

@bolwerk vessel – ”...a craft for navigating…”

bolwerk's avatar

@kritiper: I know what “vessel” means. My point stands.

XOIIO's avatar

@kritiper Yeah, I don’t get it either lol

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Lords and vassals guys.

Pachy's avatar

Wish we could ask Ray Bradbury or Isaac Asimov. I’m thinking that humans will take with them into outer space whatever laws and moral ethics they were accustomed to following on earth—at least initially.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

No, there would be no law less the captain of the space craft deems.

Pachy's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central, I agree the captain is the law-maker on the ship (although I would think many laws that apply on ships on earth would apply on spaceships). However, I commented the way I did because I had inferred from the question that @jtvoar16 was referring to colonization on another planet.

jtvoar16's avatar

@Pachy Actually, I was thinking along any lines of space fairing life. Colonization is a small part of the possibilities of living in space. Though, that is a good point. What would happen to laws as they developed on other planets? It seems a lot of people assume that they would stay with what the original planet (in this case Earth) would use, but that is also assuming that a planet has adopted a single ideal law set.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@jtvoar16

Myself, and I believe others here, believed you were simply referring to our current situation. We can’t really comment as to what laws may or may not extend to colonization or into deep space travel as, obviously, we’re nowhere near there yet, and there’s no legal precedents set.

jtvoar16's avatar

@Darth_Algar Exactly. sorry if it came off as not that.

Smashley's avatar

Laws apply in space as much as they apply anywhere on Earth. That is, you are subject to laws only so far as they can be enforced. Laws don’t have some essence that emanates from the land into the sky. Laws are agreements made by people about how people should act. They are enforced only so far as there is the ability and the will to do so. Since murder is pretty much agreed to universally be bad, it would offend too many people’s sensibilities of right/wrong that some loophole should exist for crimes done far away from Earth.

Because the reality of space flight today is that you have to leave from and eventually return to Earth, and currently only leave from countries in which murder is illegal, you will certainly be subject to prosecution upon returning to Earth (or possibly earlier if someone decides to go up there and get you).

Space colonization will pose law enforcement challenges, just like law enforcement in any ungoverned land of the past, but essentially, if they can get to you for what they consider crimes, they will.

That said, you might splash down near a country willing to offer you asylum for your crimes, but I highly doubt it.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

So, as I read this, you can do whatever the frick you want in space, just don’t come back. Is that better than prison? Ooooooo, got a new question.

Pachy's avatar

Points taken, @jtvoar16.

jtvoar16's avatar

Wow! Thank you all for these comments and answers! Now I remember why I loved this community!

Darth_Algar's avatar

Actually this does raise a good question, in my mind at least. Let’s say, hypothetically, someone assaults or murders someone else on-board the International Space Station. I wonder what jurisdiction that would fall under, considering that the ISS is a joint project between the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and the European Space Agency (itself a joint project between about 20 nations). And, at least currently, the only human flights to the ISS are out of the Russian managed Bailkonur Cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan. Honestly, I doubt such matters of criminal jurisdiction have ever really been considered by the various agencies.

bolwerk's avatar

They might all have jurisdiction, but the presumption might be that the criminal’s home country prosecute him/her. Since many people on space flights are military personnel, maybe it falls to the respective military in most cases.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther