Above: doomed? God speed, brave lizards.
A Russian satellite filled with lizards having sex with each other is 'out of control', authorities have said.
The Foton-M4 satellite was launched on July 19 containing five geckos. According to the Washington Post, the plan was to observe their mating patterns in zero-gravity, and how they were affected by the flight.
The satellite also contained plants and insects, in order to study their reaction to the odd physics of zero-G.
Unfortunately, Russia now says that after just a few orbits the satellite is out of control, and is not responding to commands from its directors on the ground.
The four male and one female lizards on board? They could be doomed.
Above: the July 19 launch of the Foton-M4 appeared to go as planned
Russia's Institute of Biomedical Problems said that the satellite is still sending back data, but can't be redirected. It is currently stuck at a height of 155 miles, whereas it had been intended to send it as high as 357 miles.
Russia is working on fixing the issue, but aren't sure if they'll get the satellite back online.
"The biological experiments started as soon as the satellite was launched," Institute press secretary Oleg Voloshin told RIA Novosti.
"The scientific equipment used for the experiments operates properly. We receive the telemetry data from the spacecraft and analyze it.
"The current tasks have so far been fulfilled."
The geckos (above) were supposed to have just 60 days to enjoy themselves until the end of the mission. Now it seems they might be in for a different and more tragic journey. Without control over the satellite, Russia might not be able to bring back the payload safely in September as planned.
The lizards, and whatever young they spawn in space, could be left instead to drift in orbit for four months, before starving to death. Sadly a similar fate befell another group of animal adventurers -- gerbils, mice and fish aboard a Russian Bion-M satellite -- last year when it crashed shortly after takeoff.