Canadian lawmakers have a new priority: prosecuting moon crimes.
On Thursday, the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa passed an amendment to the country’s criminal code by a vote of 181 to 144 to allow for the prosecution of crimes committed on the Earth’s largest satellite.
The amendment was described in a 443-page budget implementation bill presented to Parliament this week, Phys.org reported.
Canada has already extended its jurisdiction for the prosecution of crimes committed by Canadian astronauts during space travel to the International Space Station, which are treated the same as crimes committed in Canada.
The amendment comes with the increase in space flight, including private flights to near-earth orbit. The change in the law comes ahead of the first crewed mission to the moon in more than 50 years, which is set to launch in May 2024. A Canadian astronaut is expected to be onboard the Artemis II lunar flyby.
The Canadian Space Agency is one of several countries participating in NASA’s Lunar Gateway project, alongside the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The space station outpost will serve as a staging point for robotic and crewed exploration on the surface of the moon. It will also serve as a waypoint for interplanetary travel to Mars.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk outlined the possibility of dispatching a crewed mission to Mars as early as 2029.
The law will cover crimes that happen en route to or on the Lunar Gateway station currently under construction to orbit the moon, and “on the surface of the moon,” the document reads.
As detailed by Phys.org, the Criminal Code amendment comes under the subheading Lunar Gateway, which reads: “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 offense is deemed to have committed that act or omission in Canada.”
Additionally, astronauts from other countries who “threaten the life or security of a Canadian crew member” on a Canadian-supported space mission could also face prosecution.