Family sues NASA over space debris that fell on the roof of their house

A piece of space debris from the International Space Station (ISS) fell on Alejandro Otero’s home in Naples, Florida, on March 8, passing through the roof and two floors of his home. NASA confirmed that the object was part of a 29-ton pallet of used batteries, discarded from the ISS in March 2021, and which was expected to disintegrate upon re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere. Fortunately, no one was injured, although Otero’s son was home during the incident.

Now, The Otero family has filed a lawsuit against NASA, seeking compensation for damages to the property, the emotional and mental stress caused, and the costs associated with managing the incident. The family’s lawyer, Mica Nguyen Worthy, noted that under the Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects, NASA would be liable if the incident had occurred in another country, and argues that this standard should also apply within the United States. .

This is the space junk that fell into the Otero house.

A space debris incident

Recapitulating and so that you have context of what happened, on March 8 A cylindrical object weighing approximately two pounds (0.907 kilograms) crashed into this family’s home, coinciding with the re-entry of a pallet of ISS batteries over the Gulf of Mexico. NASA recovered the object for analysis and confirmed that it was a fragment of the flight support equipment used to mount the batteries on the pallet. The space agency had anticipated that the pallet would burn completely upon reentry, but a fragment survived and caused property damage.

Otero, when the incident occurred, published some photographs on his

Mica Nguyen Worthy highlighted the seriousness of the incident, noting that it could have resulted in serious injuries or fatalities if the fragment had fallen a few feet in another direction. Worthy also indicated that This case could set a precedent for how compensation for space debris incidents is handled. —and that they are similar— in the futureboth for governments and private companies involved in space operations.

«My clients are seeking appropriate compensation to deal with the stress and impact this event has had on their lives. “They are grateful that no one was physically injured, but a near-miss situation like this could have been catastrophic.”

Mica Nguyen Worthy, lawyer for the Otero family.

NASA has six months to respond to the lawsuit. In a previous statement, the agency reaffirmed its commitment to responsible operation in low Earth orbit and risk mitigation to protect people on Earth when released from space equipment and/or debris.

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