Russia Loses Control Of Gecko Sex Satellite

A Russian satellite filled with geckos who were shot into space to have sex in zero gravity has gone rogue, as controllers on the ground have lost their ability to direct the wayward spacecraft.

The reptilian satellite of love was launched this past Friday, July 18, Gizmodo reports, carrying a payload of five geckos, several plants, and a few insects. The purpose of the satellite’s mission was to allow scientists the rare opportunity to observe the animals mating in a low gravity environment, so that they could better understand sex in space. Unfortunately, on Thursday, the Russian Foton-M4 research satellite stopped responding to ground controllers’ commands.

Russia’s mission control said that they were still able to receive data from the wayward satellite, and related that the geckos, four females and one male, have been busy with their mission, according to The Huffington Post.

Oleg Voloshin, a spokesman for Russia’s Institute of Medico-Biological Problems, said, “The equipment which is working in automatic mode, and in particular the experiment with the geckos is working according to the program.” Progress, the Russian space firm that is operating the satellite, said that the design of the Foton-M4 allows for the spacecraft to operate in automatic mode “for a long time.”

The particular command that the satellite failed to respond to was meant to fire its engine and lift it into a higher orbit, relates, though in its current trajectory, the Foton-M4 could keep the geckos circling the Earth for three to four months. If mission control isn’t able to re-establish contact, however, the geckos will run out of food before the satellite comes crashing back to Earth, Ars Technica reports.

The Russian space program has had similar problems with animals in space before, quite recently in fact. As The Inquisitr reported last March, a cargo of geckos, mice, gerbils, and other experimental animals launched into space by Russian scientists met their end upon re-entry after 30 days in orbit. There is no way to know yet if researchers will be able to re-establish control, or if the gecko sex satellite will meet the same fate.

[Image via Twitter]