NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough cast a ballot from the International Space Station in the last few days, 259 miles above Earth.
Kimbrough is the commander of Expedition 50 aboard the ISS. He left Earth last month and isn’t due back until late February, well after the 45th U.S. president is inaugurated. That means he was unable to take time off work to trek to the polls.
NASA astronauts have been able to vote from space since 1997, after Texas legislators approved procedures, according to a NASA Tumblr on space voting. Most American astronauts live in Texas. The Johnson Space Center (of “Houston, we have a problem” fame) is in Houston.
A year in advance, astronauts select which elections they want to participate in while they’re in space. Six months later, they’re given a standard form: The “Voter Registration and Absentee Ballot Request — Federal Post Card Application.”
They list their address as “low-Earth orbit.”
Mission Control beams a digital version of the absentee ballot to ISS crew members, who fill it out and transmit it back.
In 1997, David Wolf was the first American to vote in space, according to NASA.