Japanese astronaut tweets his concern after growing 9cm in space


The Tokyo-born medic and deep sea diver says he is anxious that he may not fit into his spacecraft for his return home to Earth later this year. However, the spurt is short-lived; most astronauts will return to their normal height after only a couple of weeks upon their return to Earth.

After just three weeks in a microgravity environment aboard the International Space Station, Kanai has seen a phenomenal change in his body's physiology, as he's managed to grow an impressive 3.5 inches (9cm) in height. Overnight, as we sleep horizontally, the pressure of gravity on our spines weakens and we stretch out again, just a little bit.

Norishige Kanai wrote on social media he was anxious he would not fit into the seat of the Russian Soyuz vehicle that is due to bring him home in June.

"Good morning, everyone", Kanai wrote.

'I have a major announcement today. I've had physical measurements since I got to space, and, wow, I've grown by up to nine centimetres. "This is the most I've grown in 3 weeks since junior high school". He joked that he's anxious about fitting into his seat on the Soyuz capsule for the ride back to Earth.

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This is the first mission to the ISS for the 41-year-old Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut, who is also a medical doctor.

The Soyuz spacecraft which transport astronauts from Earth to the ISS and back again have a limit on seating height, so it could pose a problem if crew members become too tall.

Yes and no. It's usual for astronauts to grow an average of between two and five centimetres during their time in space.

'There's a range of growth for different people, and everybody responds differently'. On Earth, the full force of gravity shapes our bodies during a day of standing or sitting, gently pushing down on the spinal column and shrinking our overall height.