In a fast approaching Election Day, absentee ballots are a great convenience for many — especially those orbiting 220 miles above the earth.
According to NASA, the lone American on the International Space Station, Shane Kimbrough, has filled out his ballot thanks to a special electronic system designed specifically for astronauts.
As Mashable points out, a “secure electronic ballot” is created in a county clerk’s office in Texas and is sent to astronauts from NASA’s Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center.
Hello Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Isle of Palms! pic.twitter.com/YSQ4J7oA61
— Shane Kimbrough (@astro_kimbrough) November 1, 2016
“An e-mail with crew member-specific credentials is sent from the County Clerk to the crew member,” NASA said in a statement explaining the process in 2008. “These credentials allow the crew member to access the secure ballot.”
Astronauts are able to vote this way thanks to a 1997 bill passed in Texas, which allows the space explorers (who mostly live in Houston, where Johnson Space Center is located) to vote while in orbit, NASA added.
NASA’s Kate Rubins — who just flew back to Earth over the weekend — used the electronic method to send her completed ballot back to Earth before leaving the station.
Since 1998, humans have been living and working in the orbital laboratory. This past November 2 marked the 16th anniversary of continuous human presence onboard.
The first American to vote in space was was Leroy Chiao, who commanded the ISS’s Expedition 10 mission in 2004.
Follow @deadstatetweets Featured image: Shane Kimbrough (NASA)