NASA confirms the metallic object that hit the Fla home was space station debris

A metal object that tore off the roof of a Naples, Fla., home before becoming lodged in a family's wall last month was debris from a dumpster that fell from the sky and was thrown into space three years ago, authorities confirmed Monday.

The 1.6-pound cylindrical object that struck Alejandro Otero's home, scaring his son and shattering the roof, was part of a 5,800-pound collection of old nickel hydride batteries released from the International Space Station in March 2021, according to NASA. Press release. The material was expected to burn up on re-entry into Earth's atmosphere. Instead, part of it escaped re-entry, sparking nationwide curiosity about whether it really was out-of-this-world debris.

NASA is still investigating how the debris survived, and it is “committed to operating responsibly in low-Earth orbit and mitigating the risk as much as possible to protect people on Earth when space hardware is deployed.”

“I knew it was from space,” Otero told The Washington Post after the debris hit his home on March 8.

He searched online and read that the plate of batteries was removed in 2021. With NASA forecast It orbits the Earth for two to four years before burning up in the atmosphere. But Otero was later joined by astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell. Published in X Last month, the ballad will re-enter the atmosphere between March 8 and March 9, exactly three years after its release. It won't burn up completely, he said, and some fragments will hit the Earth's surface.

After the projectile hit his home, Otero posted about the debris on social media. His ideas attracted the interest of astrophysicists and NASA, which sent investigators to collect material for study.

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“It's unreal,” Otero said at the time.

There is a history published by NASA Equipment that wants to dispose of it in space, where it usually evaporates into the atmosphere. But Otero's situation is a strange one.

Otero told The Post that he contacted his insurance company about repairing his home, but it's unclear if he was able to repair the damage or claim compensation. Attempts to reach him on Tuesday evening were unsuccessful. In its post, NASA said it was not directly responsible for the damage to Otero's home and did not immediately respond to The Post's questions about whether it would cover the cost of repairs.

If Otero seeks compensation, it's hard to say what the process will look like, said Mark J.

“This is all new territory,” he said.

under International Space Law, the “launching state” – the country from which a product is launched or the country from which it is launched – is responsible for any damage its objects cause. In 1981, the Soviet Union agreed to pay Canada suffered millions in damages after one of its satellites re-entered Earth's atmosphere and disintegrated. The five-ton satellite exploded over Canada's Northwest Territories in “countless fireballs,” The Post reported at the time.

The case of Otero's home is unique in that it involves a property owned by residents, Sundal said, with little precedent. But it has brought a sense of urgency to a decades-long debate among space scientists about how to address debris and its potential to cause damage, he said.

“It's something we've talked about, but haven't seen much of,” Sundal said. “Now it's like, it's real, and it's something we have to pay attention to because we're going to use the space more and more.”

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Daniel Wu contributed to this report.

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