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Astronauts in the US election: No, NOBODY is voting from space

One 'naut may become a congressman, however

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Contrary to many a headline bespattering the space-focused portions of the internet today, no US astronauts (nor anyone else) will be voting in the imminent US presidential elections from space.

Right now there are only two US citizens to be found in orbit, International Space Station commander Sunita Williams and her subordinate, flight engineer Kevin Ford. The pair have already cast their votes for whether Barack Obama should return to the White House or be supplanted by Republican hopeful Mitt Romney - both voted from Russia, in fact, before heading up to the station aboard Soyuz ships launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome.

The other four members of the station's current Expedition 33 crew are all non-Americans: three Russian cosmonauts and one Japanese space ace.

The idea of voting in space isn't bunk, however. Various US astronauts have cast their ballots from orbit in various past elections, and NASA has a procedure for such cases, brought in at the behest of Texan politicians keen to capitalise on publicity around spacegoing voters likely to be resident in the Houston area.

One former US astronaut will be participating in elections tomorrow from the other side of the process: former space shuttle mission specialist Jose Hernandez is hoping to be elected as a Democrat congressman for California's 10th district tomorrow. Hernandez made one spaceflight in 2009 aboard shuttle Discovery, a routine support mission to the ISS. ®

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