Space debris fell on a US resident's house – an investigation is underway

On the afternoon of March 8, 2024, a resident of the Florida city of Naples was faced with a very unpleasant situation. When he was not at home, a heavy object fell into his home, which punched a hole in two floors at once. At that moment, his son was at home, he could easily have been seriously injured, but everything turned out well. One would think that a fragment of a meteorite fell from the sky, but no. Returning home, the man discovered an object that was clearly made by human hands. A few minutes before the fall, the NASA aerospace agency recorded the entry of a large fragment of space debris into the Earth's atmosphere. A home owner now believes his property was damaged by part of the International Space Station. Specialists from NASA are already studying the object, but warn that the blame may not lie with them.

Space debris fell on the house of a US resident - an investigation is underway. Space debris fell on the house of a Florida resident. Image created by the DALLE-3 neural network. Photo.

Space debris fell on the house of a Florida resident. Image created by the DALLE-3 neural network

Space debris fell on a residential building

The owner of the house damaged by the fall of an unknown object is named Alejandro Otero. His private home is located in the small town of Naples in the US state of Florida.

Judging by surveillance camera records, a heavy object fell on his home on the afternoon of March 8 at 14:34. It goes without saying that the structure was damaged: through holes appeared on the floor and ceiling of two floors at once. Fortunately, no one was hurt, although the man's son was at home.

Space debris fell on a residential building. Holes left by space debris. Image: Photo.

Holes left by space debris. Image:

At home, Alejandro Otero discovered not a meteorite, but a piece of some kind of space technology. It was heavily burned, which hinted that the object had spent some time in the hot layers of the atmosphere, but could not completely collapse.

A few hours before this incident, NASA specialists noticed that a large piece of space debris had entered the Earth's atmosphere. At first it was over the Gulf of Mexico, and then headed towards the state of Florida.

Read also:What is the danger of space debris?

The largest debris thrown from the ISS

Experts already knew what kind of garbage it was. In March 2021, a pallet containing batteries to power the station was ejected from the ISS. They were non-functional and took up a lot of space, so they decided to throw them from the station into outer space in the hope that they would burn up in the Earth's atmosphere.

For three years, the pallet drifted freely in Earth's orbit, and then was attracted by the planet . Unfortunately, it could not burn completely, because its mass was comparable to two kitchen refrigerators. It was the largest object ever dropped from the ISS.

The largest piece of debris thrown from the ISS. The same space debris that damaged a house in Florida. Image: Photo.

The same space debris that damaged a house in Florida. Image:

Now NASA specialists are studying the object that fell on the house to make sure that it is definitely space debris. The owner of the damaged home wants to receive compensation from the perpetrators for the damage caused, but the process may take a long time.

The fact is that although the batteries belonged to NASA, they were mounted on a Japanese-made pallet. So it may be difficult to determine the culprit, and the man will have to wait for the results of a long investigation.

Article on the topic: How much garbage is there on the ISS and how do astronauts throw it away

Space debris falling on a person

This is not the first time space debris has landed on private property. In 2022, we talked about how people discovered 3-meter-long fragments of metal blackened by high temperatures on Australian farms. Specialists who arrived at the scene immediately announced that these were parts of the Crew Dragon spacecraft from SpaceX. You can learn more about this situation from our article “Giant pieces of SpaceX spacecraft fell on Australian farms.” There are photos and videos!

Space debris falling on a person. SpaceX debris on an Australian farm. Image: Photo.

SpaceX debris on an Australian farm. Image:

Fortunately, there have never been deaths from falling space debris. Experts from NASA believe that the probability of becoming a victim of falling space debris is 1 in 3200. In history, there is only one known case of a space object falling on a person. This happened in 1997 to American Lottie Williams: a piece of a Delta 2 launch vehicle fell on her shoulder. To her great happiness, the fragment was small and she did not receive a single serious injury.

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Space debris poses a much greater danger to astronauts. According to scientists, there are currently approximately 128 million pieces of space debris larger than 1 millimeter in Earth's orbit. There are 34 thousand larger particles larger than 10 centimeters in size. Any of these objects can hit researchers going into outer space and cause their death. Because of this, they sometimes refuse forays from the ISS.