Transcending Distance to Make a Difference
While millions of Americans across the country are casting their ballot in elections today, NASA astronauts Doug Wheelock, Shannon Walker and Scott Kelly, of the Expedition 25 crew, are also able to take in the election experience. The three, living and working aboard the International Space Station, voted from 200 miles above the Earth.
“I voted on Sunday through an electronic e-mail system," said Commander Scott Kelly. “It felt like an honor and privilege to exercise our rights as U.S. citizens from the International Space Station."
Through a secure connection with their respective county clerk’s office, NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston allows astronauts the opportunity to vote. The clerk’s office generates the electronic ballot and the Mission Control Center uplinks the file to the astronauts to be completed, sent back and delivered to the clerk’s office to be recorded.
American astronauts have been able to cast their vote from space since 1997, when Texas House Bill 841 was passed. Astronaut David Wolf was the first astronaut to vote from space while he lived aboard the Russian Mir Space Station in 1997. Others who have voted from space include: Leroy Chiao in 2004, Michael Lopez-Alegria in 2006, Clay Anderson in 2007, and Greg Chamitoff and Mike Fincke in 2008.