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NASA confirms space junk crashed into Florida home

A piece of debris originating from the International Space Station crashed through two floors of a Florida home in March.
NASA confirms space junk crashed into Florida home
Posted at 9:45 AM, Apr 16, 2024

NASA officials confirmed on Monday that fragments left from the removal of aging nickel hydride batteries from the International Space Station crashed into a Florida home in March. 

NASA said that the batteries, which weighed 5,800 pounds, were released from the International Space Station in March 2021 using a robotic arm as the station underwent upgrades. The agency expected the materials to burn up in Earth's atmosphere on March 8, 2024. 

Instead, some of the nearly three-ton piece of hardware survived reentry and crashed through the roof of a Naples, Florida, home. NASA said it determined the debris to be a stanchion used to mount the batteries on the cargo pallet. 

NASA determined the remaining debris weighs 1.6 pounds, is 4 inches in height and 1.6 inches in diameter.

"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 in a statement. "NASA specialists use engineering models to estimate how objects heat up and break apart during atmospheric re-entry. These models require detailed input parameters and are regularly updated when debris is found to have survived atmospheric re-entry to the ground."

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Resident Alejandro Otero reported the incident on X last month. He said the object "tore through the roof and went thru 2 floors." 

There were no related injuries. 

NASA notes that thousands of pieces of orbital debris orbit the Earth. Generally, when they reenter Earth's atmosphere, the intense heat and pressure cause them to burn up. 

"Components which do survive are most likely to fall into the oceans or other bodies of water or onto sparsely populated regions like the Canadian Tundra, the Australian Outback, or Siberia in the Russian Federation," NASA said. "During the past 50 years an average of one cataloged piece of debris fell back to Earth each day. No serious injury or significant property damage caused by reentering debris has been confirmed."

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