NASA astronaut Katie Rubins cast her ballot from the International Space Station earlier this week, joining 59 million early voters.
If you have not made a plan to vote yet, let NASA astronaut Kate Rubins inspire you. She just cast her ballot from 200 miles above Earth, making her the only American citizen not on the planet. She announced via a Twitter post that she was able to place her vote from the International Space Station last week, CNN reports. This is the second time Rubins has cast her vote from space. Her first time doing so was in 2016 during the last Presidential elections. At the time, she was researching at the space station.
From the International Space Station: I voted today— NASA Astronauts (@NASA_Astronauts) October 22, 2020
— Kate Rubins pic.twitter.com/DRdjwSzXwy
Rubins began her expedition earlier this month along with two Russian cosmonauts. She and the rest of the team will spend a total of six months in space as part of the Expedition 63/64 project. Her research is about "the use of laser-cooled atoms for future quantum sensors." She will also conduct cardiovascular experiments from the space station, as per information from NASA. In addition to her astronomical responsibilities, she has also fulfilled her duties as an American citizen.
Here’s a fun fact about voting: Last week, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins cast her vote from space!— Jaime Harrison (@harrisonjaime) October 26, 2020
Here’s an even more fun fact: Early voting (absentee) has started and you can find your polling location by visiting this link!https://t.co/ThAonoPRHg pic.twitter.com/Fio3lhzE14
If you are curious about how astronauts cast their ballots, this is the process. Astronauts who were registered to vote in Texas gained the right to vote from space in 1997. This occurred when lawmakers in the state ruled that astronauts could cast their ballot electronically while they were "off-planet," that is, if they are scheduled to be on a spaceflight during the early-voting period or on Election Day. Texas plays such a central role as NASA's Johnson Space Center is located in Houston. Therefore, most astronauts are already based in the city and registered to vote in Harris County, where Houston is located.
No long lines in outer space: The astronaut Kate Rubins may have had an easier time voting from aboard the International Space Station than if she were back on earth. She cast her 2020 ballot using a special procedure designed especially for astronauts. https://t.co/S5DBUSqMKS— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 26, 2020
To let an astronaut vote, the Harris County Clerk's Office first uploads a secure electronic ballot to NASA's Johnson Space Center Mission Control Center. Then, a NASA astronaut, utilizing specific credentials, can access this secure electronic ballot and cast their vote. This is delivered back to the county clerk's office via email. This is, of course, a special process established particularly for astronauts. Ordinary citizens of the United States would not be able to vote online, owing mostly to concerns about validity and safety.