I can understand that if an astronaut attack an other astronaut inside a spaceship he/she will have to answer to the law of the country which owns the ship but what if the attack happened on the moon?

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    Unless Moon Officer Bob arrives on the scene in time, Moon Person A can get away with anything. In my opinion, the Moon Crimes Division is underfunded and understaffed, but that's an uninformed, incoherent rant for another comment thread. Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 0:01

2 Answers 2


The answer might be found in Article VIII of the Outer Space Treaty:

A State Party to the Treaty on whose registry an object launched into outer space is carried shall retain jurisdiction and control over such object, and over any personnel thereof, while in outer space or on a celestial body.

So a person on a 'celestial body' (and the Treaty includes the Moon as a celestial body) is under the jurisdiction of the country who registered the launch vehicle which carried them. If they attacked another person while on the Moon, they would be subject to the criminal law of that country.

I believe all space-faring nations have ratified the treaty.

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    What happens if astronaut from country A attacks astronaut from country B on the Moon, when both are on the surface of it (outside their vehicles) ? Which court will handle such case? Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 13:12
  • 'A' would remain under the jurisdiction of the country in whose registry his launch vehicle is listed.
    – Flup
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 13:44
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    That means that an astronaut (say an American) would (at least theoretically) have to present a passport and a valid Visa to enter a spaceship, let's assume, launched from Russia?
    – gmauch
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 14:28
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    One doesn't need to present documents to enter embassies, even though they are foreign sovereign territory; in other words, entry controls are not a necessary feature of entering foreign soil.
    – Flup
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 14:30
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    @DaleM Ask that as a question :)
    – Flup
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 13:28

If a crime has already been committed on the moon, then it would probably be handled under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Given that everyone who has been to the moon as been in the U.S. military. If we colonize the moon in the future then there will need to be a new organization to handle any potential crimes that will probably be committed.

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    Isn't NASA a civilian organisation?
    – Flup
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 13:54
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    @Ulkoma The only manned moon landings were Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17. All the men who have walked on the moon were US Military personnel
    – Sabre
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 14:03
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    This sounds more like a guess than a legal standing. Do you have a source? Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 14:42
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    @Gandolf989 A source for former military members being subject to UCMJ would be good. Armstrong, for instance, was not a member of the military at the time, and was widely hailed as "the first civilian astronaut".
    – Geobits
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 16:07
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    Members of the VFW are also former military personnel, but that doesn't mean crimes committed by their membership automatically fall under military jurisdiction. I don't mean to pick, but I don't think your conclusion has a sound legal basis, unless you know otherwise. That's why I asked. Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 18:15

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