An object from space crashed into a Florida home. The family wants accountability

A family is seeking damages from NASA after space debris crashed into their Florida home earlier this year.

Alejandro Otero and his family submitted a claim to NASA to recover money after a piece of space debris tore through their home, according to a news release on Friday from Mica Nguyen Worthy, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based attorney representing the family.

The release did not specify an amount. However, the Washington Post reported Sunday that the attorney told the newspaper in an email that the Oteros were seeking more than $80,000.

NASA confirmed in April that a nearly two-pound cylindrical object was part of a jettisoned pallet of used batteries from the International Space Station, according to the Naples Daily News, part of the USA TODAY Network.

A family is suing NASA over a chunk of the International Space Station that crashed into their house.
A family is suing NASA over a chunk of the International Space Station that crashed into their house.

Space debris a 'real and serious issue'

Alejandro Otero's son Daniel was home on March 8 when the chunk of space debris left a sizable hole from the roof through the sub-flooring, according to the news release from Cranfill Sumner, a law firm.

The Oteros live in Naples, around 30 miles south of Fort Myers, on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

"The Oteros retained Worthy to navigate the insurance and legal process and to make a formal claim against NASA," the news release said.

“Space debris is a real and serious issue because of the increase in space traffic in recent years,” added Worthy, a partner with Cranfill Sumner, in the news release.

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Space debris claim is 'historical,' lawsuit says

Worthy said in the release that NASA has six months to respond to the claim under the Federal Torts Claim Act. The claim includes noninsured property damage loss, business interruption damages, emotional and mental anguish damages and costs for assistance from third parties, the release said.

"This space debris claim is historical in that it involves a 'real life example' of the consequences of space debris surviving to the Earth’s surface," the release continued.

"How NASA responds to her claim will form the foundation upon which the legal landscape in this field will be built."

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Worthy added: “My clients are seeking adequate compensation to account for the stress and impact that this event had on their lives. They are grateful that no one sustained physical injuries from this incident, but a ‘near miss’ situation such as this could have been catastrophic. If the debris had hit a few feet in another direction, there could have been serious injury or a fatality.”

More on the space debris

NASA said ground controllers used the Space Station's robotic arm to release a cargo pallet containing aging nickel hydride batteries in 2021.

The total hardware released, weighing around 5,800 pounds, was supposed to burn up during entry into the Earth's atmosphere. But part of it that failed to incinerate crashed into the Oteros' home.

This article originally appeared on Naples Daily News: After space debris crashed into their home, a Florida family sues

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