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ISS space junk crashed into a man’s house in Florida, sparking more concerns over space junk

Published Apr 16th, 2024 7:50PM EDT
international space station over Earth
Image: dimazel / Adobe

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In March of 2021, NASA ground controllers released a cargo pallet of aging nickel hydride batteries from the ISS, the space agency shared in a post this week. The 5,800-pound pallet was expected to burn up completely upon re-entry. However, in March of 2024, when the pallet made its way through the atmosphere once more, not everything burned up, and some of that ISS space junk actually crashed into someone’s home.

NASA says that a piece of the 5,800 pounds of hardware survived the re-entry burn and crashed through the roof of a Florida man’s home on March 8, 2024. At first, the man and others believed the object might be a meteorite, but after closer inspection, they determined that it was actually a piece of the hardware that NASA had released from the ISS.

space junk around Earth
Illustration of space junk around Earth. Image source: JPL

This is, of course, just the most recent report about space junk plans going awry. In the past, we’ve seen uncontrolled re-entry from other rockets, causing concerns about where the space junk might land, though, thankfully, nobody has been hurt in any of those events.

But that doesn’t mean that the concerns over space junk can be slid under the rug. In fact, many would argue that this latest incident with the ISS space junk only outlines the importance of remaining vigilant and finding new ways to deal with space trash. There are also concerns over how burning up metal and other materials might affect climate change by polluting our atmosphere even more.

No matter how you dissect it, this most recent event is just a long-running tally in a list that continues to grow longer every time the ISS has to change course to avoid debris floating around in space. With so many future space missions planned, too, the amount of junk littering the space around our little planet is only going to increase.

NASA says it is committed to figuring out where things went wrong and how the hardware survived re-entry so that it can improve these plans to ensure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again. But NASA is just one of many agencies sending objects into space. How long until someone else’s space junk comes crashing through a roof?

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.