Astronauts Will Vote From Space – Here’s How It Works

International Space Station US Flag

Americans train their proper to vote from everywhere in the world, and for November’s election, few ballots could have traveled so far as these forged by NASA astronauts dwelling and dealing aboard the International Space Station. During earlier days of human spaceflight, astronauts would solely go to area for days, or possibly weeks, at a time. Today, astronauts sometimes keep in area for six-month missions on the area station, rising the percentages of a spacefarer off the planet throughout an election. So how does one vote from area?

How it Works

Like different types of absentee voting, voting from area begins with a Federal Postcard Application, or FPCA. It’s the identical type army members and their households fill out whereas serving outdoors of the U.S. By finishing it forward of their launch, area station crew members sign their intent to take part in an election from area.

Because astronauts transfer to Houston for his or her coaching, most decide to vote as Texas residents. Of course, NASA’s astronauts come from throughout, so these wishing to vote as residents of their house states can work with their counties to make particular preparations to vote from area.

Once their FPCA is permitted, the astronaut is sort of able to vote. Like many nice issues in area, voting begins with an experiment. The county clerk who manages elections within the astronaut’s house county sends a check poll to a workforce at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Then they use an area station coaching laptop to check whether or not they’re capable of fill it out and ship it again to the county clerk.


During a September 29, 2020, information convention with the crew of the SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Shannon Walker explains that each one three U.S. astronauts who will fly on the mission, focused for October 31, 2020, will vote from area. Credit: NASA

After a profitable check, a safe digital poll generated by the Clerk’s workplace of Harris County and surrounding counties in Texas, is uplinked by Johnson’s Mission Control Center to the voting crew member. An e-mail with crew member-specific credentials is distributed from the County Clerk to the astronaut. These credentials permit the crew member to entry the safe poll.

The astronaut will then forged their vote, and the safe, accomplished poll is downlinked and delivered again to the County Clerk’s Office by e-mail to be formally recorded. The clerk has their personal password to make sure they’re the one one who can open the poll. It’s a fast course of, and the astronaut should be sure you submit it by 7 p.m. native time on Election Day if voting as a Texas resident.

Will astronauts vote on this election?

Expedition 63/64 crew member Kate Rubins is assigned to a six-month mission launching October 14, and can vote from area. It gained’t be her first time – Rubins additionally forged her vote from the International Space Station throughout the 2016 election.

With a SpaceX Crew Dragon scheduled to hold three further U.S. crew members to the area station on October 31 as a part of the Crew-1 mission, Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker will make it to the area station simply in time to forged their ballots there, as properly. All three have crammed out the paperwork and are prepared to take action. 

Voting in area has been attainable since 1997 when a invoice handed to legally permit voting from area in Texas. Since then, a number of NASA astronauts have exercised this civic obligation from orbit. As NASA works towards sending astronauts to the Moon in 2024 and ultimately on to Mars, the company plans to proceed to make sure astronauts who wish to vote in area are capable of, regardless of the place within the photo voltaic system they could be.

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