It sounds like the plot of a bad science-fiction movie: a crew member decides to do something evil just for the sake of money, or fame, or for a cause. It's not something that we've seen in space -- but that may be just because of the high level of scrutiny that goes into astronaut selection, a new article argues.
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A suggested way to prevent crimes in space is outlined in Room: The Space Journal by Christopher J. Newman, a reader in public law at the University of Sunderland in the United Kingdom. He argues that we can't take good attitudes for granted once space tourism takes a hold. They won't face the same rigorous selections as today's astronaut corps, which employ a range of pilots, scientists and engineers.
"Space tourism companies will seek to bring access to space to a wide range of people and, as can be seen from terrestrial air travel, such a wide pool of individuals will undoubtedly need some form of legal framework to ensure their behavior can be regulated," Newman writes.
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The fundamental United Nations treaty for space exploration (formulated in the 1960s) is nicknamed the "Outer Space Treaty", and has been signed by more than 100 countries. Some of its principles include prohibiting nuclear weapons, stopping nations from making claims in space, and making nations responsible for damage their space objects (and citizens) cause.