Japanese astronaut's 9cm growth spurt could mean he can't fly home


A Japanese astronaut living on board the International Space Station has expressed his shock at growing 9cm (3.5in) since arriving in space three weeks ago.

"I grew like some plant in just three weeks".

While growth is temporary and astronauts revert to their normal height when they slip the bonds of space and return home, the height difference must be accounted for when figuring the dimensions of spacesuits, stations and vehicles.

The absence of gravity allows the vertebrae in the spine to spread apart in order to grow in height or stretch out.

Mr Kanai said he was anxious that he wouldn't fit in his spacecraft on his return home.

"Today I share some serious news", Mr Kanai wrote. I haven't grown like this since high school.

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While the growth in space reverses itself while back in Earth and under the effects of normal gravity, it may have become a problem for Japanese astronaut, Lieutenant Norishige Kanai. Norishige Kanai claimed he had grown 9 centimeters in space. 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.

'Nine centimetres is a lot, but it is possible, knowing that every human body is different, ' Libby Jackson of the UK Space Agency told BBC News.

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

"The Russian-built Soyuz space shuttles have a 6' 4" height limit for its passengers, and above average hopefuls are often not selected to participate in flight training. The country's first astronauts, the legendary Mercury Seven crew including John Glenn and Alan Shepard, were all under 182cm - any more would be too much inside the claustrophobic Mercury capsule.

Astronauts have been known to grow up to three inches (seven cm) taller in space, because of how microgravity affects the human body.