Sci-tech

Japanese Astronaut Concerned After Growing 9 Centimetres Taller In Three Weeks

Japanese Astronaut Concerned After Growing 9 Centimetres Taller In Three Weeks

I have a major announcement today.

While the three inches he's gained have put him at around six feet tall, the Russian Soyuz TMA Descent Module is created to fit astronauts of up to six foot three inches, meaning that Kanai still has a little more growing room before he'd struggle to fit.

Along with astronauts Scott Tingle and Anton Shkaplerov, Kanai arrived at the ISS on 17 December 2017 after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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

This is a known phenomenon that astronauts "grow" during the space missions because their spines extend in the absence of gravity, but the gains are generally limited to a couple of centimetres and disappear once they are back on the ground. "I grew like some plant in just three weeks". I haven't grown like this since high school.

"This makes me a little anxious that I might not be able to fit in the Soyuz seats for our return".

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He joined five other worldwide astronauts in December for Expedition 54 to the global Space Station and is orbiting Earth 250 miles above. This usually only accounts for an inch or so of growth, which will return to normal back on Earth.

Astronauts' bodies do lengthen while in space, sometimes leading to back pain as the spine stretches. Nine centimetres is a lot, but as Libby Jackson of the UK Space Agency told BBC, "it is possible, knowing that every human body is different".

"There's a range of growth for different people, and everybody responds differently".

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That led to headlines and social media posts fretting over whether Kanai would indeed be able to fold his new frame into the Soyuz spacecraft - a notoriously cramped space - upon his return to earth in June. If crew members become too tall, it could pose a problem.