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Florida Family Takes Action Against NASA After Space Station Debris Crashes Through Roof

— June 23, 2024

A Florida family filed legal claims against NASA after a piece of debris jettisoned from the International Space Station crashed through the roof of their Naples home.

According to CNN, the space agency had expected the 5,000-pound piece of refuse to disintegrate after entering the Earth’s atmosphere. However, a small piece of the cargo—no larger than a smartphone—survived the plunge, striking the Florida home and causing extensive property damage.

Homeowner Alejandro Otero told CNN that the sound of the impact was deafening—and that some of the debris purportedly came close to striking his son.

“It was a tremendous sound,” Otero said. “It almost hit my son. He was two rooms over and heard it all.”

Otero, who was not home at the time of the incident, indicated that he recognized the object as a potential piece of space debris.

“Something ripped through the house and then made a big hole in the floor and on the ceiling,” he said. “I’m super grateful that nobody got hurt.”

Samples of the refuse were later sent to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After testing, NASA confirmed that the debris had originated aboard the International Space Station.

Yellow police tape with black writing: “Do Not Cross.” Image by David von Diemar, via
Yellow police tape with black writing: “Do Not Cross.” Image by David von Diemar, via

“The International Space Station will perform a detailed investigation of the jettison and re-entry analysis to determine the cause of the debris survival and to update modeling and analysis, as needed,” NASA said.

Mica Nguyen Worthy, an attorney representing the Otero family, told ARS Technica that her clients are seeking $80,000 or more to compensate non-insured property damage, business-related losses, and mental anguish. Nguyen Worthy stressed that the overall amount of damages sought has been intentionally suppressed, in part to avoid any speculation about the family’s motives.

“We intentionally kept it very reasonable because we did not want it to appear to NASA that my clients are seeking a windfall,” she said.

ARS Technica notes that the Otero family has not yet filed a lawsuit.

Nguyen Worthy, for her part, said that they have been engaged in “productive” conversations with NASA and its legal counsel. Negotiations may take some time, as the family hopes both to recover their damages and to set a precedent for similar claims.

“This is truly the first legal claim that is being submitted for recovery for damages related to space debris,” Nguyen Worthy said. “How NASA responds will, in my view, be foundational for how future claims are handled. This is really changing the legal landscape.”


A Florida family is suing NASA after a piece of space debris crashed through their home

Family whose roof was damaged by space debris files claims against NASA

NASA says it expected space station garbage to burn up. The debris smashed into a Florida home instead

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