Shane Kimbrough, America’s only astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS), has cast his vote from outer space, NASA officials announced Monday.
Since astronauts can receive emails in space, an electronic ballot generated by the Galveston County Clerk’s office in Texas and was emailed to Kimbrough. Neither NASA nor Kimbrough stated which candidate he voted for.
American astronauts have been able to vote from space since 1997 under Texas law. Most astronauts live in the Houston area, home to NASA’s mission control and Johnson Space Center.
Kimbrough rode a Russian Soyuz rocket to the ISS on Oct. 19, and will remain there for four months on a research mission, along with two Russian cosmonauts.
Russian President Vladimir Putin currently charges the U.S. $60 million per astronaut, and will raise the price to $81 million by 2018, according to a new report that NASA’s Office of Inspector General.
Russia has repeatedly threatened to block American access to the $150 billion ISS in response to U.S. sanctions. The U.S. paid for 84 percent of the costs associated with building the ISS. The last space shuttle launched five years ago in July, but NASA still can’t put men into space without Russian cooperation due to President Barack Obama’s cuts to the agency’s exploration and spaceflight capability.
NASA’s plan to return American astronauts to space next year is reliant on private companies. Astronauts installed adapters that allowed commercial spacecraft to dock with the ISS in August and give NASA less expensive options to resupply the station.
SpaceX has already successfully resupplied the ISS seven times. One SpaceX resupply mission in June of 2015 resulted in an explosion and a total loss of the spacecraft. The private company Orbital Sciences is also under contract with the space agency to resupply the ISS, but has also had failures.
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