Space debris smashes through Florida roof, narrowly missing boy’s head

The space debris that damaged Alejandro Otero's house will be analysed by Nasa
The space debris that damaged Alejandro Otero's house will be analysed by Nasa - X

Nasa is analysing a piece of space debris that smashed through a Florida man’s roof, narrowly missing his son.

Alejandro Otero of Naples, Florida, said the item “tore through the roof and went [through] two floors” of his house, almost striking his son, on March 8.

Having recovered the small object, he believes it was a piece of a cargo pallet containing old batteries that Nasa ground control teams released from the orbital outpost in 2021.

It was supposed to burn up harmlessly over the Earth’s atmosphere on March 8, according to official projections.

Mr Otero also posted on X, formerly Twitter, a clip from his home Nest video camera where he said the sound of it crashing through his roof could be heard at 2.34 pm.

“So that’s 1934 UTC, which is very consistent with the Space Force estimate of reentry over the Gulf at 1929 UTC,” wrote noted astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, in response. “I think you may be right and it’s a bit from the reentry of the EP-9 battery pallet.”

The news was first reported by local news outlet on March 15.

“Nasa collected an item in cooperation with the homeowner, and will analyze the object at Nasa’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida as soon as possible to determine its origin,” the space agency said on Tuesday. “More information will be available once the analysis is complete.”

A report by specialist news outlet Ars Technica said that, while the batteries were owned by Nasa, they were attached to a pallet structure launched by Japan’s space agency – potentially complicating liability claims.

Past examples of man-made human space debris hitting Earth include part of a SpaceX Dragon capsule landing on an Australian sheep farm in 2022. Skylab, the United States’ first space station, fell on Western Australia upon its return to the planet.

More recently, China has been criticised for allowing its giant Long March rockets to fall back to Earth after orbit.

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