After claiming to have gained a significant height increase in one month while on a mission to the International Space Station, a Japanese astronaut issued an apology, saying he simply made an error in measurement.
Norishige Kanai, 41, made headlines and caused a stir on social media after announcing on Monday that he had grown 9 centimeters (3.5 inches) in space. Kanai wrote his fears on Twitter that he may no longer fit in his spacecraft or it may affect the safety of his return.
“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 on Monday.
“This makes me a little worried that I might not be able to fit in the Soyuz seats for our return.”
On Wednesday, a day after international news platforms covered his unusual predicament, Kanai issued an apology saying he made a mistake with his measurement.
The 41-year-old astronaut, who is currently on a six-month mission in the International Space Station, explained that his captain questioned his claimed growth, so he decided to measure himself again. As it turned out, he had actually just stretched 2 centimeters (0.8 inch) from his original height. He did not explain how he miscalculated the first time.
“This mismeasurement appears to have become a big deal, so I must apologize for this terrible fake news,” he tweeted, according to Reuters. “It appears I can fit on the Soyuz, so I‘m relieved.”
While astronauts are indeed known to “grow” during protracted space missions due to the absence of gravity which causes their spines to extend, such growth is usually limited to a couple of centimeters at maximum and normalizes once they are back on Earth.