Home Tech NASA confirms where the space debris that crashed into a Florida house came from

NASA confirms where the space debris that crashed into a Florida house came from

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NASA confirms where the space debris that crashed into a Florida house came from

NASA has confirmed that the object that landed on a Florida home last month was part of a battery pack released from the International Space Station.

This extraordinary incident opens a new frontier in space law. NASA, the homeowner and attorneys are navigating little-used legal codes and intergovernmental agreements to determine who should pay damages.

Alejandro Otero, owner of the Naples, Florida, home hit by debris, told Ars he’s pretty sure the object came from the space station, even before NASA’s confirmation. The circumstances clearly suggested that this was the case. The cylindrical piece of metal pierced its roof on March 8, a few minutes after US Space Command reported the re-entry of a space station charging pad and nine decommissioned batteries over the Gulf of Mexico. on a trajectory toward the coast of southwest Florida. .

On Monday, NASA confirmed the origin of the object after recovering it from Otero. The agency said in a statement that the object is made of the metal alloy Inconel, weighs 1.6 pounds and measures 4 inches tall and 1.6 inches in diameter.

“As part of the analysis, NASA completed an evaluation of the dimensions and characteristics of the object compared to the launched hardware and conducted a materials analysis,” the agency said. “Based on the examination, the agency determined that the debris was a NASA flight support equipment strut used to mount the batteries on the charging pad.”

A shake from the sky

Otero was out of the country when his home was targeted, but his 19-year-old son was home. The impact sounded like fireworks, Otero said in an interview Tuesday. A recording from Otero’s Nest camera captured the noise.

The son “was sitting in front of his computer doing his homework with his headphones listening to music, and he was jolted out of his chair with a very loud sound,” Otero said.

After inspecting the damage when he got home, Otero filed a police report and first responders helped remove the object from the basement between the first and second floors of his home. He penetrated the roof and ceiling of an unoccupied second-floor bedroom, then struck the floor between the bed and a bathroom and struck an air conditioning duct. He hit with such force that it created a dent in the first floor ceiling but did not penetrate it, according to Otero.

Something the size and mass of this battery holder would likely have hit the house with a terminal velocity of over 200 mph (320 km per hour). At that speed, the results could have been fatal.

“Fortunately, no one was hurt,” Otero said.

A quick glance at the object told Otero that it probably came from space. “It’s super dense, a very strong alloy, a very interesting metal,” he said. “When I saw that it was half-charred and had a cylindrical shape that had taken on a concave shape when traveling through the atmosphere, I knew it had to come from outer space.

“I knew it was the work of man,” Otero continued. “I just didn’t know where it was from until I started Googling.”

Otero said he found Original Ars article on the March 8 re-entry., along with posts about the event on X. That’s when he contacted a local media outlet. WINK News, the CBS affiliate for Southwest Florida, was the first to report the damage to Otero’s home. After Otero tried several times to contact NASA officials, a Kennedy Space Center attorney called him to hear his story. NASA then sent someone to pick up the object from Naples.

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