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.