For the first time they sue NASA for space debris that fell on a house

For the first time they sue NASA for space debris that fell on a house
For the first time they sue NASA for space debris that fell on a house

Prop recovered from NASA flight support equipment used to mount International Space Station batteries on a cargo pallet. The prop survived re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere on March 8, 2024, and impacted a home in Naples, Florida.

Photo: NASA

On Friday, March 8, a strange object broke through the roof of the Otero family home in the city of Naples, Florida. The impact was of such magnitude that the material managed to open a hole even in the subsoil. Without knowing what it could be, the Oteros contacted the authorities to investigate the incident.

A little over a month later, in mid-April, the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration, better known as NASA, confirmed that the object that passed through the Otero home came from the International Space Station (ISS). for its acronym in English).

In March 2021, three years before the Naples incident, NASA used a robotic arm on the ISS to release a payload containing old batteries that needed to be replaced. The total weight of the released batteries, known as hardware, according to the space agency, reached 2,600 kilos.

In NASA’s plans, the hardware was to burn up completely before entering the Earth’s atmosphere on March 8 of this year. However, as the space agency reported in April, “a piece of hardware survived re-entry and crashed into a house in Naples (…). “NASA collected the object in cooperation with the owner and analyzed it at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.”

After analysis, NASA determined that the remains were made of Inconel metal alloy, weighed 1.6 pounds (0.7 kilos), and measured approximately 10 centimeters high.

Recently, it was learned that Alejandro Otero hired lawyer Mica Nguyen Worthy to sue NASA for the incident. According to the Worthy law firm, “damages owed to family members include uninsured property damage, business interruption damages, emotional and mental distress damages, and the costs of assistance. necessary third parties in the process.”

According to the AFP agency, the Otero family’s claims exceed $80,000, which would correspond to just over 327 million pesos. For the lawyer, however, this case, the first of its kind, could serve to set a precedent for the accidents that space debris has generated in recent years.

“Here, the United States government, through NASA, has the opportunity to set the standard or ‘set a precedent’ for what responsible, safe and sustainable space operations should look like. “If NASA were to take the position that the Oteros’ claims should be paid in full, it would send a strong signal to both other governments and private industries that those victims should be compensated regardless of fault,” Worthy concluded.

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