The object may have come from the International Space Station.

A piece of metal tore through the roof of a Florida home last month. It may be part of an “equipment pallet” discarded by the International Space Station. The home owner could be in line for compensation if the object came from the space station.

NASA is investigating after a resident of southern Florida claimed his home was badly damaged by an object that fell from space.

Alejandro Otero was away on vacation on the afternoon of 9 March when his son called to say something had smashed into the house in Naples.

The object “ripped through the house and then made a big hole on the floor and on the ceiling,” he told WINK News. “Immediately I thought a meteorite … it almost hit my son.”

Otero returned home to find a cylindrical object a few inches long and weighing about 2 lbs.

Just five minutes before the house was damaged, an “equipment pallet” from space had reentered the earth’s atmosphere headed for the Gulf of Mexico, Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said on X.

He was tracking the planned disposal of three tons of space junk from the ISS that fell to Earth in an unguided re-entry on 9 March.

The pallet was a “little to the northeast” of its intended path and would have reached Ft Meyers — about an hour’s drive from Naples — if it had re-entered the atmosphere a couple of minutes later, McDowell said.

Hello. Looks like one of those pieces missed Ft Myers and landed in my house in Naples.
Tore through the roof and went thru 2 floors. Almost his my son.
Can you please assist with getting NASA to connect with me? I’ve left messages and emails without a response.

— Alejandro Otero (@Alejandro0tero) March 15, 2024

Most space debris vaporizes as it plummets through the atmosphere and reaches temperatures of several thousand degrees, but that depends on how big it is and what it’s made of.

Replying to a question on X about whether the space junk would burn up, McDowell said that “some bits of battery casing will survive.”

The European Space Agency says: “While some parts may reach the ground, the casualty risk — the likelihood of a person being hit — is very low.”

At the time of the incident, Otero said he had contacted NASA about the damage but hadn’t received a response.

However, engineers now have the object and will analyze it “as soon as possible to determine its origin,” a NASA representative told Ars Technica.

If it’s found to be from the space station, Otero could be eligible for compensation. But if the object is found to be foreign-made, his claim could be more complicated, one expert told the publication.

NASA did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider, made outside normal working hours.

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