Florida family sues NASA for damages after space debris hits home

A Florida family whose home was hit by space debris earlier this year is seeking compensation for property damages and emotional distress from the US space agency NASA.

A 1.6-pound (0.7-kilogram) metal object ripped a hole through two floors of the ceiling of Alejandro Otero’s Naples home in March.

NASA had said the object was part of about 5,800 pounds of equipment being discarded after the International Space Station was fitted with new lithium-ion batteries.

Otero said the impact nearly injured her son.

A press release from law firm Cranfill Sommer listed damages including uninsured property damage, business interruption, emotional distress and third-party assistance costs.

“With the increase in space traffic in recent years, space debris has become a very real problem,” said lawyer Micah Nguyen-Worthy.

“My clients are seeking appropriate compensation commensurate with the stress and impact this incident has had on their lives,” she said in a statement.

Otero told CBS affiliate Wink TV that the explosives made a “tremendous noise” as they entered his home.

“I was shaking. I just couldn’t believe it. How could something fall on my house with that much force and cause this much damage?” Otero said.

The debris turned out to be part of a support pole used to attach batteries to a cargo pallet.

“The instrument was expected to burn up completely upon re-entering Earth’s atmosphere on March 8, 2024. However, part of the instrument survived and impacted a home in Naples, Florida,” NASA said.

NASA said the ISS will “conduct a detailed investigation” into how the debris survived the burn.

The agency has six months to respond to Otero’s allegations.

Space debris is a growing problem: In April, skywatchers in California spotted a mysterious golden streak moving through space.

U.S. officials later determined that the light show was caused by burning debris from a Chinese rocket re-entering Earth’s orbit.

In February, a Chinese satellite known as “Object K” burned up after re-entering the atmosphere over Hawaii.

A huge barnacle-covered metal dome found on a coast in Western Australia last year has been identified as part of an Indian rocket and will be put on display alongside pieces of NASA’s Skylab, which crashed in Australia in 1979.

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