This summer, Russia decided to study the effect space travel had on the reproductive system. Their guinea pig was actually a group of gecko that were launched into orbit on July 19. As it turns out, tiny green lizards don't make the best cosmonauts and the mission ran into problems just a few days in.
On July 25, Russia lost control of their space geckos when mission control down in on the ground lost contact with the satellite. Luckily, they were able to get the mission back on track just a few short days later. The success, however, was only temporary. The mission has now turned tragic: every gecko on board has been pronounced dead.
The satellite carrying the geckos returned to the city of Orenburg on Monday. A team from Russia's Federal Space Agency opened the satellite to find the geckos all deceased. The Russian Academy of Sciences Institute for Medical-Biological Problems is helping to determine a cause of death, as well as the time of death. The two Russian associations offered a joint statement to The Moscow Times: "All the geckos, unfortunately, died."
On the bright side, the flies on board the satellite survived — and reproduced in space. While we are happy for the flies, this mission makes us question Russia's ability to care for animals. What will become of the dolphins they stole?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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