October 19th, 2004, 14:40 PM
Astronaut to e-vote from space
The space station's newest astronaut will cast his ballot in the presidential election from 225 miles (238 kilometers) up, with NASA's help.
Leroy Chiao said Monday that the space agency has worked hard with local and federal authorities to make it possible for him to vote from the orbiting complex, his home until spring.
He plans to cast his ballot via a secure e-mail connection, much the same way that astronaut David Wolf used a new computer software developed by NASA to cast his ballot from the Russian space station Mir in a 1997 vote on 14 amendments to the state constitution.
U.S. astronauts, most of whom live around Houston, won the right to vote from space under a Texas bill signed into law by then-Gov. George W. Bush.
"Definitely, I'll be exercising my civic right and my civic duty," Chiao said.
Chiao arrived at the station during the weekend via a Russian Soyuz spacecraft that also carried two cosmonauts, one of whom will spend the next six months with him in orbit.
The astronaut he is replacing, Mike Fincke, said he, too, will vote -- but by absentee ballot from Russia. That is where Fincke will be on Election Day, recuperating from a six-month space station mission that is due to end with a landing in Kazakhstan this weekend.