A Japanese astronaut’s growth spurt in space turned out to be “fake news.”
Astronaut Norishige Kanai apologized on Wednesday after he falsely said he grew 9 centimeters — about 3 and a half inches — taller in a month while on his mission to the International Space Station. The astronaut’s mission is expected to run nearly six months.
“Today I have a critical report. 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,” Kanai tweeted, according to the translation provided by Reuters.
The 41-year-old astronaut said he was “little worried” that he wouldn’t fit in the seats on the Soyuz aircraft, which has a height limit.
But turns out, he overestimated.
Kanai had himself measured again after a Russian colleague was skeptical about the growth. He said the second measurement showed he only grew two centimeters since leaving Earth.
“This mis-measurement appears to have become a big deal, so I must apologize for this terrible fake news,” he tweeted. “It appears I can fit on the Soyuz, so I‘m relieved.”
Many astronauts “grow” while they are in zero gravity because their spines stretch while they are in space. The growth usually amounts to a few centimeters, about one to two inches, at most, Reuters reported.
Once they are back on Earth, the spontaneous growth spurt usually disappears.
Kanai already stands taller than the average Japanese man, according to the Japan Times. Kanai is 5 feet 10 inches tall, compared to the average 5 feet 7 inches.