Voting in Space? Yearlong-Mission Astronaut Will Miss 'Super Tuesday' Primary

Scott Kelly in Space Back to Earth
NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra are slated to vote March 1, but only Kopra will have a say in Texas' primary elections; Kelly is returning to Earth that day. (Image credit: NASA TV)

"Super Tuesday," when several U.S. states hold their primary presidential elections, won't be so super for astronaut Scott Kelly. Or, rather, it will be "super" for a different reason; instead of casting a vote, he'll be busy making his way back down to Earth after a yearlong stay on the International Space Station.

Both of the U.S. astronauts on board the station are slated to vote tomorrow (March 1) when their home base of Houston, Texas, casts its votes, but NASA representatives said Kelly will not be able to participate.

"Scott confirmed he will not be voting as he will be in the process of landing," NASA spokesman Dan Huot told

Kelly's crewmate, Tim Kopra, will be able to vote thanks to a 1997 Texas bill setting out a technical process for spacebound voters.

"They send it back to Mission Control," NASA spokesman Jay Bolden of Johnson Space Center told in 2012 during the last presidential election cycle. "It's a secure ballot that is then sent directly to the voting authorities." Kopra will receive an email with specific credentials, which he will use to access the ballot.

When they get home, Kelly and Kornienko will go through extensive testing to see how a year in space affects the human body. Kelly will also be compared with his twin brother, Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut, in a comprehensive genetic study.

Kopra, British astronaut Tim Peake and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko will remain on board the space station. They will be joined by U.S. astronaut Jeff Williams and Russian cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka on March 18.

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Sarah Lewin
Associate Editor

Sarah Lewin started writing for in June of 2015 as a Staff Writer and became Associate Editor in 2019 . Her work has been featured by Scientific American, IEEE Spectrum, Quanta Magazine, Wired, The Scientist, Science Friday and WGBH's Inside NOVA. Sarah has an MA from NYU's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program and an AB in mathematics from Brown University. When not writing, reading or thinking about space, Sarah enjoys musical theatre and mathematical papercraft. She is currently Assistant News Editor at Scientific American. You can follow her on Twitter @SarahExplains.