October 10, 2020: Crew-1 launch date has slipped to likely after election day. Three Americans who planned to vote in space will likely still be on Earth. Astronaut Kate Rubins lifts off on October 14 before the election. Original story below.
Voters across the country will head to the polls on November 3 to vote in the 2020 election, and this year four Americans will call the International Space Station their local polling station. NASA astronauts who will soon leave Earth for the ISS some 200 miles above the planet have opted to vote from space in the upcoming election.
NASA astronaut Kate Rubins is currently in Russia preparing for a six month stay in space alongside two cosmonauts as part of the next Expedition crew. Her launch is currently scheduled to liftoff on October 14.
Astronaut Rubins opted to vote from space in this election to motivate others to also participate in the upcoming election while on Earth.
I think it’s really important for everybody to vote. If we can do it from space, then I believe folks can do it from the ground, too. It’s critical to participate in our democracy. We consider it an honor to be able to vote from space.Associated Press
Prior to her upcoming mission, Kate Rubins was the first person to sequence DNA in space. She will soon work on a cardiovascular experiment to conduct studies using the Cold Atom Lab. Rubins will relieve Commander Chris Cassidy from his role as the sole American aboard the space station after a seven day handoff period on October 21.
Ten days later, NASA astronauts Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, and Shannon Walker will be joined by JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi as the SpaceX Crew-1 mission lifts off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. All three NASA astronauts have opted to also vote from space as their Halloween morning launch takes place three days before Election Day.
While they won’t have access to a real ballot from above, the astronauts will receive a secure PDF file to record their votes. This file will be sent back to Earth and it will go to their respective counties where the vote is counted.
This won’t be the first time an astronaut will vote from space, however. Kate Rubins and SpaceX Crew-2 astronaut Shane Kimbrough previously voted in space. SpaceX Crew-1 astronaut Shannon Walker will also be voting from space for a second time.