Wed. Apr 17th, 2024
alert-–-piece-of-5,800lb-battery-pallet-tossed-from-nasa’s-iss-crashes-through-florida-home-–-and-smashes-through-two-floorsAlert – Piece of 5,800lb battery pallet tossed from NASA’s ISS crashes through Florida home – and smashes through two floors

A piece of metal came crashing through a home in Florida that is believed to be from a 5,800-pound battery pallet discarded by the International Space Station (ISS).

Naples homeowner Alejandro Otero was on vacation when he received a call from his son, saying he heard a ‘tremendous sound’ and there were gaping holes in the ceiling and floor – while explaining whatever fell almost hit him.

The two-pound, cylinder object has since been recovered by NASA to determine its origin and if found to be space junk, the agency could be liable for damages.

NASA tossed the pallet in 2021, expecting it would stay in orbit for two to four years before reentering the Earth’s atmosphere in a controlled manner –  but the unguided attempt caused it to have an off-course and unpredicted landing.

A two-pound object crashed into a man's home in Naples, Florida earlier this month, prompting an investigation by NASA into the space debris' origin

A two-pound object crashed into a man’s home in Naples, Florida earlier this month, prompting an investigation by NASA into the space debris’ origin

The space debris crashed through Alejandro Otero's roof and went through his floor (pictured) into the basement below.

The space debris crashed through Alejandro Otero’s roof and went through his floor (pictured) into the basement below.

NASA spokesperson Joshua Finch told Dailymail.com: ‘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.’

He added: ‘More information will be available once the analysis is complete.’

The battery pallet was supposed to burn up over Ft. Myers but instead landed off-course on March 8 because astronomers had wrongly estimated the time it would reenter the Earth’s atmosphere.

Otero shared pictures of the object on X, asking someone to connect him with NASA, and astronomer Jonathan McDowell responded, telling him it was likely an EP-9 pallet that reentered over the Gulf of Mexico, between Cancun and Cuba.

McDowell said that it was supposed to enter the atmosphere just before 7:30 pm UTC but its path to Ft. Myers was just a prediction window, adding that ‘a couple minutes later reentry and it would have reached Ft Myers.’

‘Something ripped through the house and then made a big hole on the floor and on the ceiling,’ Otero told WINK News. 

‘When we heard that, we were like, impossible, and then immediately I thought a meteorite.’

Alejandro Otero said the object nearly hit his son when it fell through the ceiling (pictured). Otero said his son called him while he was on vacation after hearing a 'tremendous sound'

Alejandro Otero said the object nearly hit his son when it fell through the ceiling (pictured). Otero said his son called him while he was on vacation after hearing a ‘tremendous sound’

The object finally stopped once it reached Otero's basement (pictured), breaking the concrete and damaging his home. The federal government could be liable for damages to Otero's home if its found that the battery was NASA-owned

The object finally stopped once it reached Otero’s basement (pictured), breaking the concrete and damaging his home. The federal government could be liable for damages to Otero’s home if its found that the battery was NASA-owned

The metal object weighed about two pounds, according to Otero who described it as ‘an apparent man-made cylindrical-shaped object.’

‘I was shaking. I was completely in disbelief,’ Otero told WINK. 

‘What are the chances of something landing on my house with such force to cause so much damage?

‘I’m super grateful that nobody got hurt.’ 

NASA released the pallet (pictured) from the International Space Station in 2021 and said it would orbit the Earth for two to four years before reentering the atmosphere

NASA released the pallet (pictured) from the International Space Station in 2021 and said it would orbit the Earth for two to four years before reentering the atmosphere

There is more than 30,000 pieces of space junk circling Earth's orbit and posing a major risk of debris reentering the atmosphere

There is more than 30,000 pieces of space junk circling Earth’s orbit and posing a major risk of debris reentering the atmosphere

Otero is waiting to hear back from NASA and other responsible agencies to resolve the damage his home suffered, and wrote that ‘their assistance is crucial in resolving the damages from this deliberate release.’

READ MORE: Terrifying interactive map reveals the space junk orbiting Earth – as experts warn it could come raining down at any point 

Scientists have warned there is a 10 percent chance an out-of-control rocket or spacecraft could kill someone within the next decade.

He continued: ‘But more importantly how in the future to arrange the payload so it will burn in its entirety as it reenters.’

The federal government could be liable for the damages to Otero’s home under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which states that any negligent or wrongful acts would make it responsible for the destruction.

In 2021, NASA told astronauts on the ISS to release the Japanese-owned cargo pallet containing nine old batteries that would remain in orbit for two to four years before crash-landing back to Earth.

The space agency told Spaceflight Now at the time that they expected the pallet to burn up ‘harmlessly’ when it reentered the Earth’s atmosphere but didn’t know how many pieces of the batteries or pallet would remain intact.

However, although NASA owned the battery, Japan’s space agency launched the pallet they were attached to, potentially putting the country at fault. 

‘It gets more interesting if this material is discovered to be not originally from the United States,’ Michelle Hanlon, executive director of the Center for Air and Space Law at the University of Mississippi told Ars Technica.

‘If it is a human-made space object which was launched into space by another country, which caused damage on Earth, that country would be absolutely liable to the homeowner for the damage caused.’

Space debris is any disused equipment in space and there are more than 30,000 objects currently stuck in orbit that can fall back to Earth within several years. 

Although most space junk burns up upon reentry, a 2023 report by the Federal Aviation Authority warned that surviving debris could kill or injure someone every two years by 2035.