NASA Agrees ISS Debris Hit Home in Florida

NASA Agrees ISS Debris Hit Home in Florida

NASA confirmed today that a piece of debris from the International Space Station hit a home in Naples, FL last month.  The homeowner reported that something hit his house about the time a pallet laden with old batteries was reentering the Earth’s atmosphere. NASA expected it all to disintegrate, but it did not.

The ISS has large batteries on the outside of the space station connected to solar arrays that power the 420 Metric Ton facility.

The International Space Station with its multiple sets of solar arrays that recharge batteries that power the complex. Photo credit: NASA

The ISS has been in orbit for more than two decades and NASA swapped out the original nickel-hydrogen batteries for new lithium-ion batteries over several years in the late 2010s and early 2020s.

In March 2021, NASA released a 5,800 pound pallet carrying old batteries with the expectation it would disintegrate when it eventually reentered. Space objects heat up through friction as they descend into the lower layers of the atmosphere. NASA and its space agency and commercial partners routinely use the fiery heat of reentry to destroy trash.

In this case, however, a piece survived during the reentry three years later on March 8, 2024.

Homeowner Alejandro Otero posted to X that a piece of debris hit his house in Naples, FL, narrowly missing his son.

NASA acknowledged today it was from the ISS. In a blog post, the agency said it is part of a stanchion used to mount the batteries to the pallet and showed a photo of the stanchion (left) and the debris (right, in the purple-gloved hand).

Excerpt from NASA blog post. April 15, 2024.

NASA told this evening the homeowner may file a claim through the Federal Tort Claims Act to seek reimbursement for damages that were incurred.

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