What happens to the body in space? Astronaut Tim Peake explains 'unusual' flu-like changes

Space is an incredibly dangerous place for humans – everybody knows that. But, you might not know that simply leaving Earth’s atmosphere could have a profound effect on the body, too. Tim Peake has revealed the subtle changes you notice while floating up in space.

Spending time away from gravity could have some noticeable changes on the body.

Many astronauts return home to notice they’re slightly taller – and the longer they’re away, the taller they become.

Back in 2018, Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai revealed he’d grown almost an entire inch after spending just three weeks one the International Space Station (ISS).

The absence of gravity allows the vertebrae in the spine to spread apart, which increases height.

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“You feel the effects of weightlessness instantaneously,” Peake told

“The moment the main energy cuts out, and you enter weightlessness, you feel the shift in your body fluid.

“You feel yourself get puffy-faced, your nose gets a bit blocked up, you can feel your inter-cranial pressure increases, and you can kind of feel it.

“It’s a bit like you’ve got a cold or the flu, and you’ve got that stuffy nose feeling.

“When you get out of the spacecraft and you’re allowed to float naturally, you noticed that your shoulders are much more hunched; that’s where they like to be.

“It’s only gravity that pulls them down on Earth. So you feel your body shape into this semi-foetal position, which is the relaxed, natural position in weightlessness. It’s very unusual.”

Astronauts might also arrive back on Earth much lighter than when they left.

It’s common to lose muscle mass in the absence of gravity.

Fluids in the body tend to move upwards too, because gravity isn’t pulling it downwards.

But, that means there’s more pressure on the eyes, which could lead to vision problems.

However, astronauts don’t tend to notice these more long-term changes, Peake said.

“The changes that occur over a period of weeks – muscle atrophy and bone atrophy – you don’t feel that,” he added.


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