Astronauts Vote From 220 Miles Above Earth


Americans on the ground aren't the only ones voting in the midterm elections. Three astronauts aboard the International Space Station are exercising their democratic right from 220 miles above the Earth.

The three are voting in elections in the Houston area in Galveston and Harris counties, reported.

County officials prepare the ballots, then Mission Control beams them into space.

"Plans were in place to make it available for the crew and we believe all three are going to vote," NASA spokeswoman Nicole Cloutier-Lemasters told

Astronauts have been able to cast their ballot from outer space since 1997, when Texas passed a law to enfranchise them. The first American to vote from space was David Wolf, who voted from on board Russia's Mir Space Station in 1997.

The ballots have been available to the astronauts since last week.

"I voted on Sunday through an electronic e-mail system," Navy Capt. Scott Kelly told reporters via a video link today. "It felt like an honor and privilege to exercise our rights as U.S. citizens from the International Space Station."

The space station marks 10 years of human habitation today, during which time the station has traveled more than 1.5 billion miles. That's the equivalent of eight round trips to the sun.

"It's kind of mind-boggling when you stop and think about what you've done," NASA chief Charles Bolden told the space station crew, according to CNN.

The space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to take off Wednesday for the space station. The shuttle will deliver spare parts and supplies along with a robot called Robonaut 2, or R2.

The robot is the fruit of a partnership between NASA and General Motors. NASA hopes the robot will be able to take over many tasks that astronauts now handle and maybe someday embark on spacewalks.

"While it might be just a single step for this robot, it's really a giant leap forward for tinmankind," Rob Ambrose, acting chief of Johnson Space Center's automation, robotics and simulation division in Houston, told the Associated Press.