Image: Astronauts' greeting
Alexander Natruskin  /  Reuters
The international space station's new commander, Leroy Chiao, looks on from the background on Saturday as Russian cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov, lower left, greets NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, upper right.
updated 10/18/2004 5:36:38 PM ET 2004-10-18T21:36:38

The space station’s newest astronaut will cast his ballot in the presidential election from 225 miles (360 kilometers) up, with NASA’s help.

Leroy Chiao said Monday that the space agency has worked hard with local and federal authorities so he can vote from the orbiting complex, his home until spring. He will cast his ballot via a secure e-mail connection, much the same way another astronaut did from Russia’s Mir space station in 1997.

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 over 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.

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