Japanese astronaut apologises for 'fake news' of height increase

Norishige Kanai

The 41-year-old Kanai, who went to space last month for a almost six-month mission, posted on Twitter on Monday that he had "a big announcement".

Kanai soon followed up his announcement with his concerns that he might not be able to fit in a seat on his flight home.

The news of a Japanese astronaut who shot up nine centimetres in height after just a month in spaceflight turned out to be too out-of-this-world to be true. I've had physical measurements since I got to space, and, wow, I've grown by up to nine centimetres.

Kanai, who is also a doctor and on his first space mission, seemed surprised himself, even concerned by the initial measurement.

NASA scientists say astronauts can grow up to three percent taller while in space or around five centimetres for someone 1.8 metres high.

This is because of the absence of gravity which allows the vertebrae in their spines to spread apart.


Members of the International Space Station expedition 53/54, NASA astronaut Scott Tingle, Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

He joked: "This makes me a little anxious that I might not be able to fit in the Soyuz seats for our return". Upon returning to earth and its gravitational pull, astronauts return to their usual height.

When asked if Kanai should be concerned about making it back to Earth, Anderson said he is not anxious because once you return to Earth your spine shrinks back to normal.

Astronauts' bodies do lengthen while in space, sometimes leading to back pain as the spine stretches.

The 41-year-old Kanai, a former Maritime Self-Defense Force doctor and the 12th Japanese to travel into space, said he went back to the tape measure after fellow astronaut Anton Shkaplerov of Russian Federation questioned his newfound height. He'd have to grow more than another 9cm for his height to become a problem.

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