NASA astronaut votes from space bunk bed for Election Day 2022

u.s. flag against a multi-frame window with the earth below
The United States flag is framed by the cupola wrap-around window on board the International Space Station. (Image credit: NASA)

At least one election ballot this year came from out of this world.

NASA astronaut Josh Cassada zipped up the sleeve on his International Space Station (ISS) bunk bed, creating a modified voting booth to vote in the U.S. midterms from space Tuesday (Nov. 8).

"I've voted my entire adult life, but this year's voting booth definitely takes the cake," Cassada, a U.S. Navy captain, joked in a tweet (opens in new tab) showing off the closed-off bunk. "So thankful to everyone — especially democracy — for allowing me to remain part of this essential process this year."

Cassada and the other U.S. astronauts aboard the complex right now are eligible to vote by absentee ballot. The process involves the astronaut filling out a Federal Postcard Application (opens in new tab) ballot before liftoff. (It's similar to an absentee ballot other U.S. citizens use, but targeted at populations living overseas or in the case of Cassada, in space.)

Related: Election 2022: How astronauts vote from space

The other eligible U.S. voters among Expedition 68 include Kjell Lindgren (an American born in Taiwan), Loral O'Hara, Bob Hines, Jessica Watkins (the first Black female on a long-duration flight), Nicole Mann (the first Native American female in space) and Frank Rubio (the first Salvadoran-American in space).

"I can't confirm if the individuals onboard will vote — that has to come from them," Dan Huot, NASA's public affairs lead for the ISS, told Space.com when asked if the others plan on it. Huot confirmed, however, that the absentee ballot process previously used by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins in 2020 is identical to what is possible in 2022. 

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NASA has been a leading item on the political agenda in recent months. U.S. president Joe Biden confirmed the agency's commitment to remain on the ISS through 2030 with the passage of the CHIPS Act this summer. NASA's 2023 budget received a $23 billion request from the White House, along with a promise to put astronauts on Mars by 2040.

The ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine that started in February, however, has torn apart most space partnerships aside from the ISS and set the tone for tense international moments. One recent example was threats by Russia that it will fire on U.S. commercial satellites looking at Ukraine from orbit, which prompted a response from the White House.

Government-funded military space has also been quite active in recent years with the creation of a new United States Space Force unit pledging to provide "critical intelligence on threat systems, foreign intentions and activities in the space domain." 

Elizabeth Howell is the co-author of "Why Am I Taller (opens in new tab)?" (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book about space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Facebook (opens in new tab).

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. Elizabeth's reporting includes an exclusive with Office of the Vice-President of the United States, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and (soon) a Bachelor of History from Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace