It sounds like something out of one of those crazy tabloids or a really bad sci-fi movie. But five geckos in space experienced some communication issues with the Russian space program. A week after its launch, Russian satellite “Foton-M4” had a communications error. On board are 5 space-worthy geckos (1 male and 4 females) who are part of a study for mating success in zero gravity. With them as well is a separate study to examine the growth of crystals in micro-gravity with a semi-conductor.
The satellite was launched from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome on July 19 and orbited the earth 7 times before the system error occurred. Luckily, recent efforts have prevailed in establishing the connection for the research satellite.
The satellites issue was that it is only sending information and not receiving it. This could’ve proved hazardous to its return mission when the experiment is over. Before the system was corrected, M4 was drifting unchecked on auto pilot with the 5 geckonauts getting frisky. In case you were wondering, the mating habits were still observed.
Unfortunately, however, this isn’t the first time that this has happened to Russia’s space program. The satellite Foton-M1 failed in 2001 resulting in the casualty of 20-year-old soldier Ivan Marchenko. While Foton M2 and M3 had been successful, it was only last year a similar satellite called Bion-M experienced a massive system failure, killing the majority of animals on board including gerbils, mice and fish.In 2011, the Phobos-Grunt also plummeted back to Earth shortly after its launch. M4 was lucky to have its communications reestablished and should bring back fruitful results of our organisms functionality in space.