2-pound chunk of space station debris leaves a giant hole in Florida Man's home

Alejandro Otero returned to his Naples, Florida home on the evening of March 8, 2024, only to find a strange hole smashed through the entire structure. As Ars Technica reports:

Otero wasn't home at the time, but his son was there. A Nest home security camera captured the sound of the crash at 2:34 pm local time (19:34 UTC) on March 8. That's an important piece of information because it is a close match for the time—2:29 pm EST (19:29 UTC)—that US Space Command recorded the reentry of a piece of space debris from the space station. At that time, the object was on a path over the Gulf of Mexico, heading toward southwest Florida.

This space junk consisted of depleted batteries from the ISS, attached to a cargo pallet that was originally supposed to come back to Earth in a controlled manner. But a series of delays meant this cargo pallet missed its ride back to Earth, so NASA jettisoned the batteries from the space station in 2021 to head for an unguided reentry.

Here's where it gets even more complicated though: according to Ars Technica, the question of homeowner's insurance liability will depend on which country to whom the space debris technically belonged. If Otero has to file a claim against, say, Japan — the country that owned the pallet structure to which the batteries had been attached before being jettisoned – suddenly he's facing an international legal clusterfuck.

Trash from the International Space Station may have hit a house in Florida [Stephen Clark / Ars Technica]

Previously: Ultrathin `blanket` spacecraft could someday wrap up dangerous space junk for destruction