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Falling satellite: 10 times space junk has crashed into Earth

Falling satellite trackers at NASA say it will hit Friday night or Saturday morning and has a small chance of crashing in the US. But the precise track and timing of the falling satellite is still hard to predict. Falling space junk has happened before, however, including these 10 examples.

6. January 1997: Women hit, unharmed by space junk on different continents

Newscom/File
The launch of a Delta 2 rocket from California in June.

In one of the only known cases of a person actually being struck by space junk, a piece of a Delta II rocket hit an Oklahoma woman in January 1997. Lottie Williams was taking a walk and felt something brush her shoulder not long after she saw a streak of light in the night sky. That object turned out to be a small piece of woven metal, weighing no more than an empty soda can, though it came from a rocket launched a year earlier.

Ms. Williams was unhurt, though there were reports that same night of a 580-pound fuel tank that narrowly missed an occupied farmhouse, according to NASA records. The steel tank survived the fall through the atmosphere mostly intact.

That same year, a woman in Turkey was hit in the head by a lightweight piece of charred woven material, though she was not injured. The debris was identified as a fragment of a Delta II booster, which reentered Earth’s atmosphere in late January.

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