Japanese astronaut apologizes for 'fake news' of height growth in space

Norishige Kanai was concerned about fitting in the Soyuz seats for his return home

"Good morning, good morning", tweeted Kanai yesterday from the International Space Station.

Norishige Kanai told his social media followers on Twitter that he is now anxious he might not fit into the seat of the Russian Soyuz vehicle that is due to bring him home in June.

Norishige Kanai (right) pictured with fellow astronauts Mark Vande Hei of NASA (left) and Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos (center).

"My height's been measured here in space and somehow, somehow, I've grown 9cm (3.5 inches)!"

On Jan. 8 Norishige Kanai, a 41-year-old rookie astronaut with JAXA, Japan's space agency, tweeted his shock that he had measured 9 cm taller than on the day of his departure.

Several news outlets reported that Mr Kanai had grown nine centimetres in three weeks, before he discovered his actual growth was just two centimetres.

Japanese astronaut apologizes for 'fake news' of height growth in space
Japanese astronaut apologizes for 'fake news' of height growth in space

The growth spurt in height occurs because their spines stretch out due to the absence of gravity in space. Nothing like this since high school.

And when astronauts return to earth, so too do they return to their usual height. This usually only accounts for an inch or so of growth, which will return to normal back on Earth. His initial measurement was so extreme that he anxious he'd be too big for the tight space, which contains seat liners custom-molded for each astronaut and can not fit anyone above 6 feet, 3 inches tall.

What's rare is the rate and amount Lt Kanai has grown in three weeks of living on the space lab.

Kanai will be landing back on Earth in a Soyuz spacecraft within the next six months.

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.

After an influx of media interest-and questions from his captain-Kanai made a decision to remeasure himself to find out how tall he had actually become.

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