Why Am I Taller?: What Happens to an Astronaut's Body in Space

Why Am I Taller?: What Happens to an Astronaut's Body in Space

Williams, Dr. Dave and Elizabeth Howell

  • What happens in space that causes the body to change? Learn about life in space from astronauts

    Is the human body built for Mars? NASA’s studies on the International Space Station show we need to fix a few things before sending people to the Red Planet. Astronauts go into space with good vision and come back needing eyeglasses. Cognition and DNA expression could be affected for years. And then there’s the discomfort of living in a tight space with crewmates, depression, and separation from the people you love.

    Space doctors are on the case. You’ll meet the first twin to spend a year in space, the woman who racked up three physically challenging spacewalks in between 320 days of confinement, and the cosmonaut who was temporarily stranded on space station Mir while the Soviet Union broke up underneath him. What are we learning about the human body?

    As astronauts target moon missions and eventual landings on Mars, one of the major questions is how the human body will behave in “partial gravity.” How does the human body change on another world, as opposed to floating freely in microgravity? What can studies on Earth and in space tell us about planetary exploration? These questions will be important to the future of space exploration and to related studies of seniors and people with reduced mobility on Earth.


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  • Dr. Dave Williams is an astronaut, aquanaut, pilot, ER doctor, scientist, CEO, and bestselling author. The former Director of Space & Life Sciences at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, he has flown in space twice. He holds the Canadian spacewalking record and was the first Canadian to live on the world’s only undersea research habitat. He lives in Toronto, ON.

    Elizabeth Howell, PhD, is a staff writer for Space.com. She has been a space journalist for 20 years and is one of the few Canadian journalists to focus exclusively on space. After working for The Globe and Mail, the Canadian Medical Association Journal, CTV Ottawa and the Ottawa Business Journal, Howell struck out as a full-time freelance space journalist in 2012. Before shifting to full-time work at Space.com in 2022, she was a frequent contributor to publications for clients such as CBC, SpaceQ, and Space.com. She has seen rocket launches in the United States and Kazakhstan, lived on a simulated Mars base, and interviewed many astronauts. She also teaches technical writing and does consulting work from Ottawa, ON.

  • Published: November 2022

    ISBN: 9781770415966

    Dimensions: 6 x 9 in.

    Pages: 240

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“The authors’ down-to-earth explanations and vivid descriptions are a treat, and especially enlightening are Williams’s first-person accounts of being in space … This candid survey will delight armchair astronauts.” — Publishers Weekly

“Space buffs will likely find this an intriguing and informative peek into the various ways that space travel affects the human body.” —Library Journal

Why Am I Taller? is a comprehensive and contemporary romp through the clinical challenges of past and future space flight. It is the kind of book that results when two gifted authors merge their respective talents to bring otherworldly medical discoveries down to earth with insight and clarity. Williams and Howell’s fascination for matters of physiology, physics and future frontiers is clearly evident and serves to impart a sense of wonder throughout the book.” ­­— Robert Thirsk, former Canadian Space Agency astronaut

“It’s a fascinating look at the challenges of space travel and of living in space, and the methods used to keep space travelers healthy—in space and after they return to Earth.” — The Epoch Times

“Anecdotes from space flights and astronauts augment Williams’s firsthand experience, including Neil Armstrong’s experiences with Gemini 8 and from recent stents on the International Space Station. These research findings are intriguing and accessible, vivified by an undercurrent of energy and excitement. Why Am I Taller? is a fascinating science text about the effects of space travel on the human body.” — Foreword Reviews

Why Am I Taller? is a fascinating look at living in space, the challenges it offers, and the methods used to keep space travelers healthy in space and after they return to Earth. It is absorbing and informative.” — National Space Society

“Williams and Howell write simply and engagingly, never getting bogged up in excessively dry details and maintaining accessibility of the material throughout. And they sprinkle enough humor to hit the sweet spot and make it very enjoyable.” — books are life blog