Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai

ISS astronaut apologises for ‘fake news’ after claiming he’d gained 9cm in space

Image credit: reuters

A Japanese astronaut who said he had grown by 9cm while spending time on the International Space Station has apologised after he realised that he had vastly exaggerated the increase in his height.

Forty-one-year-old Norishige Kanai, who went to space last month for a nearly six-month mission, posted on Twitter on Monday that he had “a big announcement.”

“My height’s been measured here in space and somehow, somehow, I’ve grown 9 cm! In only three weeks I’ve really shot up, something I haven’t seen since high school,” he tweeted.

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

But a little over a day later - and in the wake of a flurry of news stories - he apologised, saying that he’d measured himself after his captain raised questions about the apparent growth and he had stretched only 2 cm from his Earth-bound height.

“This mis-measurement appears to have become a big deal, so I must apologise for this terrible fake news,” he later tweeted, without explaining how the original miscalculation had occurred.

“It appears I can fit on the Soyuz, so I’m relieved.”

Most astronauts ‘grow’ during protracted space missions because their spines extend in the absence of gravity, but the gains are usually limited to a couple of centimetres maximum and disappear once they are back on the ground.

Speaking to BBC News, Libby Jackson of the UK Space Agency said: “Nine centimetres is a lot, but it is possible, knowing that every human body is different,”

“You do get taller in space as your spine drifts apart, usually by about two to five centimetres.

“There’s a range of growth for different people, and everybody responds differently.”

Last week Nasa announced that it had attached a space debris sensor (SDS) to the outside of the ISS to allow researchers to track space debris impacts in real-time. 

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