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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Michael Sainato

US family sues Nasa for $80,000 in damages after space debris hits home

Closeup of a purple-gloved hand holding a chunk of metal.
Nasa confirmed that space debris that fell into a Florida man's home was from the International Space Station. Photograph: Nasa

A family in Naples, Florida, whose home was struck by debris that fell to Earth from outer space and punched a hole in the roof is pursuing $80,000 from Nasa in compensation for damages.

The law firm Cranfill Sumner said in a press release that it filed a claim on behalf of plaintiff Alejandro Otero and his family.

A metallic cylinder slab from a cargo pallet that had been released by the International Space Station in 2021 hit the Otero family home on 8 March 2024 while their son Daniel was home. No one was injured, though it created a hole in the roof and floor.

Otero told Wink News that the object almost hit his son, who was two rooms over.

The US space agency later confirmed the debris was from its flight support equipment. A section of the debris remained intact rather than disintegrating after it entered Earth’s atmosphere before falling to the surface.

Nasa made that determination after the debris was collected from the home and analyzed at the Kennedy Space Center. The metal cylinder weighed 1.6lb (700g) and measured about 4in by 1.6in (10cm by 4cm).

The Oteros’ claim against Nasa cites damages for non-insured property, business interruption, emotional and mental anguish, and the cost of assistance from third-party agencies.

“My clients are seeking adequate compensation to account for the stress and impact that this event had on their lives,” the Otero family’s attorney, Mica Nguyen Worthy, said in a statement. “They are grateful that no one sustained physical injuries from this incident, but a ‘near miss’ situation such as this could have been catastrophic. If the debris had hit a few feet in another direction, there could have been serious injury or a fatality.”

Worthy noted the case seeks to set precedent for space debris claims in the private and public sector.

Nasa will have six months to respond to the claim.

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