Cosmonauts Vote From Space for Russia's Presidential Election

Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, Expedition 30 flight engineer, poses for a photo with a Russian Orlan spacesuit after a spacewalk outside the International Space Station on Feb. 16, 2012.
Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, Expedition 30 flight engineer, poses for a photo with a Russian Orlan spacesuit in the Pirs docking module after a spacewalk outside the International Space Station on Feb. 16, 2012. Kononenko is wearing a blue thermal undergarment that complements the Orlan spacesuit. (Image credit: NASA)

Three Russian cosmonauts may be flying hundreds of miles above Earth on the International Space Station, but their mission did not keep them from voting in their country's presidential elections on Sunday (March 4).

The cosmonauts, who make up half of the space station's six-man crew, voted with the help of their Mission Control Center just outside Moscow, as well as the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City - where the cosmonauts live when on Earth.

"That is the main location for cosmonaut training, and also where the three station crewmembers reside," NASA spokesman Dan Huot said during daily commentary from the station's U.S. Mission Control room in Houston.

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a former president of the country, won the election in a contentious victory, according to the AFP wire service.

According to Russia's Federal Space Agency, station cosmonauts Anton Ivanishin, Oleg Kononenko and Anton Shkaplerov made an early request for the chance to vote in Sunday's election. To do it, they gave their votes to Cosmonaut Training Center employee Dmitry Zhukov, who was in the Russian Mission Control to serve as a proxy.

Zhukhov recorded the votes for each cosmonaut, then filled out individual ballots on their behalf and dropped them into a special ballot box as election officials observed, Russian space officials said.

Russian cosmonauts aren't the only orbital residents with the opportunity to vote from space. American astronauts on the space station regularly cast votes from orbit in presidential and local elections as well. Two Americans and a Dutch astronaut round out the space station's current Expedition 30 crew.

American station crewmembers can vote from space using an electronic email system under a 1997 Texas law. Those votes are then beamed to NASA's Mission Control room at the Johnson Space Center in Houston and then related to the country clerk's office for the counties of each astronaut.

The first American to vote from space was astronaut David Wolf, who actually voted from Russia's former Mir Space Station for elections in 1997.

You can follow Managing Editor Tariq Malik on Twitter @tariqjmalikFollow for the latest in space science and exploration news on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.