Family Targets NASA for Damages

Family Targets NASA for Damages

( – When NASA conducts its missions, sending spaceships into the atmosphere, it often leaves behind debris or machinery, known as space junk. These materials can vary in size. Most debris burns up when it re-enters the atmosphere and doesn’t cause much damage. However, that’s not always the case. A family in Florida is suing NASA for damage space junk caused when it allegedly hit their roof.

Alejandro Otero spoke with CBS News and said that his son called him while he was away on vacation in March to tell him that something crashed through the roof of his home. NASA determined the cylindrical object, later identified as a metal support for mounting old batteries for disposal, belonged to the agency. It was a remnant from the space station, tossed into space in 2021. Most of it burned up, but that one piece survived.

Cranfill Sumner, a law firm with offices in North Carolina and Washington, DC, announced on Friday, June 21, that it had filed a lawsuit against NASA for damages. The support was reported to have left a hole in the Oteros’ roof and damaged the subflooring in the home.

In a statement, Lawyer Mica Nguyen Worthy noted that while nobody was hurt, it constituted a “near-miss situation” that could have injured Otero’s son, Daniel, the home’s occupant at the time. The law firm hopes that in addition to collecting financial damages for the incident, the case will also set a precedent for future similar claims in both the private and public sectors.

Worthy elaborated further on the point, saying if the courts or the agency decide to pay “the Oteros’ claims […] in full, it would send a strong signal” to victims seeking compensation, whether the agency was at fault or not.

Worthy pointed out that the agency would have made compensation without question had the incident happened in another country because of international treaties and laws. She suggested that NASA now had the opportunity to set policy standards in the US for “responsible, safe, and sustainable space operations.”

NASA hasn’t yet responded to the suit but has six months to do so.

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