ISS Space Debris Destroys Florida Mansion

The roof and two floors have been breached

The three-year-old story of the ejection, re-entry into the atmosphere, and fall to Earth in March 2024 of a block of spent electric batteries from the International Space Station (ISS) took a completely unexpected turn today (April 16, 2024). On April 15 (April 16 in Europe), the US Aerospace Agency (NASA) officially confirmed in a statement that “an ISS battery fragment penetrated and destroyed the roof and two floors of a home in Florida in the southeastern United States.”

The so-called space “junk” – a pallet the size of a minivan and weighing 2.6 tons – was jettisoned from the ISS and sent into free-flight orbit on March 21, 2021. For three years, the pallet referred to as space object EP-9 has been orbiting Earth, but on Saturday, March 8 (Match 9 in Europe), 2024, the moment of “cremation” in Earth’s atmosphere has arrived. It was clear to NASA experts from the start that the electric battery pack, designed to withstand the extreme conditions of open space, would not burn out 100%. “Although some parts may touch the ground, the probability of human impact is very low,” the European Space Agency (ESA) said in advance. Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer and astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, was more precise: “The batteries won’t burn up completely,” McDowell said, “about half a ton of shatter will reach and hit the Earth’s surface.”

That’s exactly what happened. One of those pieces of shatter, weighing 700 grams, penetrated the roof and two floors of a private home in Naples, Florida. By pure chance, the space “junk” did not cause a fire. Alejandro Otero, a homeowner who suddenly had a rather traumatic experience for his home, published a post on X social network (formerly Twitter), where he claims that it was “a piece of ISS battery that destroyed his house,” in which his son was present at the time, but fortunately he was not injured.

NASA officials recovered the debris that destroyed the house and a month later officially acknowledged that it was a piece of the ISS that caused the damage. Otero and his insurance company will now have to seek compensation from the US federal government. This way he can try to get the money he needs to rebuild his house, which his fellow villagers immediately dubbed “the garbage magnet from outer space.”