Debris from the International Space Station Could Hit This Florida House

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A few weeks ago, something from the sky fell on the roof of Alejandro Otero’s house, and NASA is on the case.

Apparently, this nearly 2-pound object came from the International Space Station. Otero said it ripped through the roof and floor of his two-story home in Naples, Florida.

Otero was not at home at the time, but his son was there. A Nest home security camera captured the sound of the crash at 2:34 pm local time (19:34 UTC) on March 8. That’s important news because it closely matches the exact time—2:29 pm EST (19:29 UTC). —that the US Space Command recorded the re-entry of space debris from the space station. At the time, the object was on its way across the Gulf of Mexico, toward southwest Florida.

The space junk contained spent batteries from the ISS, attached to a cargo pallet that was originally supposed to return to Earth under control. But too many delays caused the cargo pallet to miss the return trip to Earth, so NASA released the batteries from the space station in 2021 for a carefree re-entry.

Perhaps Otero encountered space debris was first reported by WINK News, the CBS affiliate for southwest Florida. Since then, NASA has recovered the debris from homeowners, according to Josh Finch, a spokesman for the agency.

Engineers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center will analyze the object “very quickly to determine where it came from,” Finch told Ars. “More information will be available once the analysis is completed.”

Ars reported on this review when it happened on March 8, I realize that most of the material from the batteries and the payload would have burned up as it entered the atmosphere. The temperature would have reached several thousand degrees, causing most of the material to vaporize before reaching the ground.

The entire array, including nine unused batteries from the space station, had a mass of more than 2.6 metric tons (5,800 pounds), according to NASA. In size, it was twice as tall as a standard kitchen refrigerator. It is important to note that objects of this type, or larger ones, always fall to Earth on guided paths, but most of the time they are satellites that fail or end up in rocket stages that are left in orbit after completing their missions.

In the post on XOtero said he was waiting to contact the “responsible agencies” to settle the damage to his home.

If the object belongs to NASA, Otero or his insurance company could sue the federal government under the Federal Tort Claims Act, according to Michelle Hanlon, director of the Center for Air and Space Law at the University of Mississippi.

“It would be very interesting if these things were found not to have come from the United States,” he told Ars. “If it was a man-made object that was launched into space by another country, that destroyed the Earth, that country would be liable to the owner of the building for damages.”

This can be a problem in this case. The batteries belonged to NASA, but they were attached to a plug introduced by the Japanese space agency.

How This Happened

During the reentry on March 8, a NASA spokeswoman at the Johnson Space Center in Houston said the space agency had “thoroughly inspected the debris on the pallet and determined that it will re-enter space safely.” This was, by far, the largest object ever launched from the International Space Station. “We don’t expect any part to survive,” NASA said.

Research from other astronomers, however, disagreed with NASA’s statement. The Aerospace Corporation, which funds research and development, says a “rule of thumb” is that 20 to 40 percent of the mass of a large object will land on the ground. The exact percentage depends on the composition of the product, but these nickel-hydrogen batteries are made of a very strong metal.

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