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NASA Space

Whose Laws Apply On the ISS? 344

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the well-mine-do-of-course dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Whose laws apply if astronauts from different countries get into a fight, make a patentable discovery, or damage equipment belonging to another country while on the International Space Station? According to the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, ratified by 98 nations, states have legal jurisdiction within spacecraft registered to them. When the space station was assembled from modules supplied by the United States, Russia, Japan and the European Space Agency (ESA), partners rejected an initial proposal that US law should prevail throughout the space station. "It was agreed that each state registers its own separate elements, which means that you now have a piece of the US annexed to a piece of Europe annexed to a piece of Japan in outer space, legally speaking," said Dr Frans von der Dunk of the International Institute of Air and Space Law at the University of Leiden. So what happens if a crime is committed in space? "If somebody performs an activity which may be considered criminal, it is in the first instance his own country which is able to exercise jurisdiction," Dr. von der Dunk added."
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Whose Laws Apply On the ISS?

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  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @02:48PM (#21270457)

    They might be the first people able to claim multinationality


    Actually, lots of people are able to claim more than one nationality as a result of birth; for instance, anyone born of a parent from one country that makes children of its citizens citizens by birth, that also:
    1) has their other parent a citizen of another country that does that, or
    2) is born in a country different than their parents country of citizenship, that makes people born in the country citizens by birth,
    Can claim birthright citizenship in more than one country. IIRC, some countries force such a person to make a choice of one or the other at adulthood or give up the claim. I don't really think the ISS, despite having bits of many countries in close proximity, really adds anything new in this regard.
  • Re:Crimes in space (Score:3, Informative)

    by adz (630844) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @02:54PM (#21270565)
    Wrong way round. You don't want innocent people getting upset because you decompressed them. So the innocent ones are the ones who die (besides, you're a bit of a freak if you survive decompression).
  • by khellendros1984 (792761) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @02:59PM (#21270651) Journal
    I'm reasonably certain that both Germany's and Switzerland's citizenship laws work this way. In fact, there's a sizable Turkish population in Germany, many of whom have lived there for generations, but who don't have citizenship because Germany doesn't automatically grant it at birth. At least, that's the situation as I remember it. It's been a while since I lived there, and I was just a kid.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @03:14PM (#21270885)
    The Canadian Criminal Code basically states that if any crime on the ISS involves a Canuck, Canada can prosecute the crime:

    Section 7:

    Space Station -- Canadian crew members

    (2.3) Despite anything in this Act or any other Act, 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, if that act or omission is committed
    (a) on, or in relation to, a flight element of the Space Station; or

    (b) on any means of transportation to or from the Space Station.

    Space Station -- crew members of Partner States

    (2.31) Despite anything in this Act or any other Act, a crew member of a Partner State who commits an act or omission outside Canada during a space flight on, or in relation to, a flight element of the Space Station or on any means of transportation to and from the Space Station that if committed in Canada would constitute an indictable offence is deemed to have committed that act or omission in Canada, if that act or omission
    (a) threatens the life or security of a Canadian crew member; or

    (b) is committed on or in relation to, or damages, a flight element provided by Canada.

    This is the same section that governs crimes on aircraft, oil platforms, and some ships.
  • Re:Probably a lawyer (Score:4, Informative)

    by hedwards (940851) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @03:19PM (#21270957)
    And exactly what is wrong with NASA? A lot of good science comes out of it. Sure a lot of it isn't immediately obvious as to the benefit, but the country and the world as a whole is better off for having the agency around doing research.

    Climate research for example has greatly benefited from the actions of the agency.
  • European law (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bromskloss (750445) <auxiliary DOT ad ... privacy AT gmail> on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @03:25PM (#21271073)

    a piece of Europe

    As if Europe even was a single country with a common law. (Err, a law in common, that is.)

    Things seem to be going that way, unfortunately (EU, get out of Sweden now, please!), but we're not there yet.

  • by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7&cornell,edu> on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @03:27PM (#21271107) Homepage
    I think part of the problem (as listed in the summary) is that while a ship in international waters usually has a clearly defined nationality, the ISS has a bunch of parts originating from different countries, so the question is what is the nationality of the "ship". It sounds like the issue is not difficult when dealing with spacecraft of a single nationality (for example, the Space Shuttle.)
  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice@noSPAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @03:30PM (#21271145)
    It happens at least once a year on scheduled flights, and no, all those nationalities do not count - the baby gets to claim the parents nationality and the destinations nationality.
  • Re:Crimes in space (Score:5, Informative)

    by Cedric Tsui (890887) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @03:44PM (#21271355)
    No No. It is clearly the other way around.
    The witch trials for instance. Witches float, so you tie the accused witch up to ensure she can't swim (because that would add a a second variable of uncertainty) and toss her into the nearest creek. If she floats, and is a which, you then haul her over to the town square to be burned. If she sinks and drowns... An unfortunate casualty of the justice system.
  • Fights on the ISS (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nick Driver (238034) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @03:52PM (#21271467)
    Are the fights that serious on the ISS?

    With the possible exception of the temporary visitors, all the crews onboard the ISS, the Shuttles and Soyuz ships that service the ISS are all extremely disciplined professionals and have to behave as such at all times, especially since they are kept busy so much of the time, and their safety depends on their professionalism. These folks have been trained their whole careers to exercise great patience that it is second nature to them. I seriously doubt there are any "fights" more involved that something along the lines of "Awright, which one of you knuckleheads ate my last package of butterscotch pudding" or something like that. There have been some rather heated exchanges between the ISS crews and their mission control counterparts on the ground, and those are well documented, but so far there's been no widely publicized arguments between the ISS individual crew members themselves.
  • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @04:05PM (#21271649)
    ...and no, all those nationalities do not count - the baby gets to claim the parents nationality and the destinations nationality.

    Not entirely true. It depends on the citizenship laws of each country involved. For instance, simply being born in a country doesn't automatically give you rights to citizenship (I was born in Germany, but neither of my parents are German citizens, so it's not even an option for me). I'm sure there are a few combinations of the above example where someone would have legal rights to citizenship in all four countries.
  • by metlin (258108) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @04:23PM (#21271915) Journal
    There are two types - Jus Soli [wikipedia.org] and Jus sanguinis [wikipedia.org].

    Former grants citizenship as a function of soil/territory and the latter through blood lineage. So, the method of deeming a person's citizenship would be heavily contingent upon the method used for determining the same.
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @06:24PM (#21273607) Journal
    You know, NASA only paid $4 a piece for those million dollar pens. They were developed entirely by private industry and were better than the pencils that both the Russians and NASA were using.
  • Re:Crimes in space (Score:3, Informative)

    by Roger W Moore (538166) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @04:19AM (#21278755) Journal
    Weight is a measure of the acceleration of your mass due to gravity relative to another mass.

    Sorry but this is very wrong. Using your definition then since all object accelerate equally under gravity all objects would have the same weight which is clearly not correct!

    So, in the ISS I'd say you are weightless relative to the ISS... and so is the duck.

    Weight is a force caused by gravity which is proportional to mass (hence the equal accelerations). Since in the ISS you still feel the gravitational pull of the Earth you still have a weight. The best illustration of this is that you are going round in a roughly circular orbit. To follow such an orbit there must be a force acting on the space station and the source of that force is gravity hence you have a weight.

    Perhaps a better way to think of it is imagine you are in a lift at the top of a tower block and someone suddenly cuts the cable and you start to fall. In the brief moments of life left to you you are clearly not weightless but instead are in freefall so you get the illusion of weightlessness. The ISS is just like that...only the freefall lasts a lot longer!
  • Re:Crimes in space (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ihlosi (895663) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @04:44AM (#21278875)
    i think its the acute hypothermia issues that will kill you, not the decompression in itself...



    Um, no. It's lack of oxygen that you'll die from. You'll lose consciousness after about 15 to 20 seconds (due to deoxygenation of your blood on your lungs) and probably don't want to be resuscitated after more than 2 minutes unless you enjoy an existence at the mental level of a daisy.

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