Russian space lizards, newts, mice, gerbils, and other experimental animals met a tragic fate as a result of their month-long journey into space — meaning that the first Russian mission to launch animals into space after 17 years has proved a disappointing failure.
Multiple sources have said that most of the animals failed to survive the 30-day test of how they would do alone in a weightless environment some 357 miles above the earth.
The Guardian said that Russian state-controlled television showed the capsule and some animals when it landed back on earth Sunday night at a location about 750 miles away from Moscow. At that point, the Russian space agency was only prepared to acknowledge that some of the animals didn’t live through the test.
However, The Space Reporter made a stronger statement late Sunday night, saying that all of the Russian experimental space travelers are now dead.
The failure could be bad news for the Russian space program. A rumored manned mission to Mars could be at risk if even small, tough animals can’t survive the proposed conditions.
The original month-long experiment was highly anticipated. The April 19 launch was intended to allow the lizards, mice, and other animals to return alive and in good health.
NASA collaborated with the joint effort. “There has been a long history of this kind of biological research over the past 40 years, and NASA and the Russian side have been collaborating for that entire time, which is pretty remarkable,” NASA project manager Nicole Rayl told Fox News on the day of the launch. She added:
“The unique nature of this mission is that it’s a 30-day mission, so it’s longer than a lot of the other animal and biological missions we’ve flown.”
The disappointing news is definitely a setback to the program. Now the teams must find out what happened to the Russian space lizards, mice, and other animals.
[caiman lizard photo by Malcolm via Flickr and Wikimedia Commons]