Around 250 miles above Earth, orbiting the planet at 17,500 miles on the International Space Station, American astronaut Kathleen Rubins cast her vote in the election, which was attended by millions of others around the country who voted early.
“If we can do it from space, I believe people can do it from the ground as well,” she said in a video posted on NASA’s website.
An astronaut and marine biologist, Ms. Rubins, who goes by Kate, was the first to sequence DNA in space during the 2016 mission. On her current mission, she is conducting experiments related to the cardiovascular system.
As it turns out, Ms. Rubins could have had an easier time voting from space, as if she were back on Earth.
In New York, where early voting began on Saturday, tens of thousands of voters waited for hours to cast ballots, with lines lined up for blocks outside polling places. Similar scenes have occurred in other states.
Election days are still eight days away, with more than 60 million Americans already voting, surpassing the early 2016 voting record.
The astronauts have been voting from space since 1997, when Texas legislators instituted a technical process that enabled them to cast a ballot. Many astronauts choose to register in Texas, as they undergo training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Ms. Rubins dropped the queues, but had to take some extra steps to vote from space. First, prior to its rocket launch, it indicated its intention to participate in the election by filling out the Federal Postcard application, the same form completed by military members serving outside the US, in a post by NASA on its website said.
The next step, like most things at NASA, involved a trial run. The county clerk sent a test vote to a team at Houston’s Space Center, where officials checked if they could fill the ballot and send it back.
After the test, the Mission Control Center for Space Center uplinked the ballot of Ms. Rubins. From space, he cast his ballot, which officials downlined and sent back by email to the county clerk’s office.
Ms. Rubins’ vote, last week, arrived well before the 7 a.m. Election Day deadline for astronauts.