It is a common phenomenon for astronauts to experience a difference in height while they are exploring the outer space. However, a Japanese astronaut named Norishige Kanai’s recent claim left many wondering when he stated that his height had increased by 9 cm (around 3.5 inches). Interestingly, only hours later, the 41-year-old corrected his statement and stated that it was a measurement error.
Exaggerating his height growth while he was in the International Space Station, he said it had grown by 9 cm during three weeks in his previous tweet. He also added that he had not experienced such a rapid growth since his school time. He further expressed his concern and wondered whether the sudden increase in height would hamper his return to Earth as the increase might obstruct him from fitting into the spacecraft. Norishige is presently on the Expedition 54/55 and shared his concerns on Twitter on January 8.
— 金井 宣茂 (@Astro_Kanai) January 8, 2018
While a slight height elevation is a common and a well-studied phenomenon during space missions, the growth trend record is between 3-5 cm (about 2 inches), whereas the one reported by Norishige – who is reportedly a medical doctor too – was almost double the size. As per various studies, it is noted that the human body changes in the absence of gravity and the spine becomes more elongated in outer space.
He later tweeted out an apology and elaborated how the mistake happened. He said that the confusion was created due to an error in measurement and apologised for spreading ‘fake news’. He further wrote that he was relieved that he would be able to ride and return on Soyuz.
— 金井 宣茂 (@Astro_Kanai) January 9, 2018
For Norishige, this is the first mission to the ISS. The 41-year-old is scheduled to return from ISS via a Soyuz space capsule. The seat of the capsule is modified for the Soyuz-TMA version in the early 2000s. Known as Kazbek-UM, it is all set to accommodate crew members up to 190 cm in height and 95 kg in weight, according to an RT report. Norishige arrived at the station in December 2017, with NASA’s Scott Tingle and Russia’s Anton Shkaplerov.
Many on social media have expressed their disappointment and confusion over Norishige’s tweet. One of them even commented on the post being a joke.
He has grown 9 cm (!) since he’s been in space! He’s not had a growth spurt like that since high school and is worried he may not fit in his Soyuz capsule for the journey home! (I think the last bit is a joke).
— Melissa Molseed 🚀 (@MelisICP) January 9, 2018