ISS: Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai anxious by growth spurt

Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai on the International Space Station

A Japanese Astronaut has gained more than a few centimeters while spending time on the International Space Station, and is now anxious he might not be able to return home due to his growth in space.

Norishige Kanai said in fact he grew by 2cm, blaming "a measurement mistake".

He later tweeted apologies for what he described as "fake news".

His original incorrect claim sparked global fascination among social media users.

This is because of the absence of gravity which allows the vertebrae in their spines to spread apart.

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.

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Mr Kanai tweeted: "Good morning, everybody". I have a major announcement today. Nothing like this since high school. "I am a bit anxious whether my body will fit in the return Soyuz seat".

A few hours later, Kanai tweeted that his captain said the 9 cm spurt seemed wrong, and that after remeasuring, he found he'd only grown 2 cm, well within the normal range.

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. Flight Commander Shkaplerov would know these things, he's such a veteran.

When asked if Kanai should be concerned about making it back to Earth, Anderson said he is not anxious because once you return to Earth your spine shrinks back to normal. 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.

This is the first space mission for the Japanese astronaut who was previously a diving medical officer with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.