MOSCOW, July 25 (UPI) -- A Russian satellite full of randy lizards? It sounds like something out of a James Bond spoof, but it's real. Because how else are you going to learn about the effects of zero gravity on reptilian reproductive capabilities?
Unfortunately, Russia's cosmic sex experiment is at least momentarily on hold, as officials try to get back in touch with its satellite filled with mating geckos. The Russian space agency launched its Foton-M4 satellite just last week. The plan was to let it orbit for 60 days while the lizards attempt to mate. The craft would then be returned to Earth and scientists would analyze the lizards' attempts at reproduction.
But as of now, Russian space officials can't communicate with the satellite.
"We currently receive telemetric data from Foton. However, we cannot transmit commands from the Earth to the satellite so far, that is, we have only one-way connection. Experts are now trying to restore the communication," Russia's space agency said in a press release.
It's the latest of a long series of blunders and malfunctions by Russia's space program.
"Another off-nominal situation with a space craft is a sign of a systematic crisis in the industry," Ivan Moiseyev, research chief at the Institute for Space Politics, told Russian newspaper Izvestia.
Though the satellite will continue to orbit safely for the time being, if they can't regain two-way communication with the craft, they won't be able to return in to Earth. If that's the case, a satellite full of geckos, fruit flies and other organisms will be lost in space.
That would mean the end of an interesting science experiment, but potentially the beginning of an excellent science fiction thriller.