Published: Wed, January 10, 2018
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Astronomical oops: Japanese astronaut didn't grow nine centimetres after all

Astronomical oops: Japanese astronaut didn't grow nine centimetres after all

Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai says that he has grown 9cm in just three weeks - and now worries he won't fit into the capsule to return to our planet.

Most of the vital equipment each astronaut brings with them is custom made - space suits aren't exactly a "one size fits all" item - and a change of almost four inches could make things feel a wee bit cramped for Kanai.

Lieutenant Norishige Kanai said on social media that he was concerned he wouldn't fit into the spacecraft that would return him to Earth.

Yes and no. It's usual for astronauts to grow an average of between two and five centimetres during their time in space. "This is the most I've grown in 3 weeks since junior high school".

It is the first space mission for Kanai, who previously served as a diving medical officer with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. "I'm a bit anxious whether I'll fit in the Soyuz seat when I go back", he said.

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

Studies have shown that when the spine is not exposed to the pull of Earth's gravity, vertebra can relax and expand.

This extra growth may actually be a major problem, and has the astronaut concerned that he might not actually be able to fit into the Soyuz capsule which is meant to carry him back to Earth.

"Nine centimetres is a lot, but it is possible, knowing that every human body is different". Crew members' height could become a problem if they grow too tall, but it was not clear whether Kanai's current height would actually be problematic, the BBC reported.

Certainly, many of us would love the opportunity to grow a little taller, so the thought of enjoying a natural stretch might be initially appealing.

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