"Ground control commands do not reach Russian satellite Foton," reports the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS dryly, revealing not even a hint of the sexual tension that lies beneath:
Satellite Foton-M4 was launched on July 19, 2014 with five Gecko lizards, Drosophilae flies, plant seeds and microbes onboard was scheduled to land in southern Ural's Orenburg region in two months. 22 sets of research equipment developed by leading Russian research organizations were mounted on the satellite. Several experiments and research are planned on board.
By research, they mean lizards fucking.
The geckos were up there to mate. And mating means sex. And tiny space lizards fucking on a satellite means an opportunity for bored news headline writers to write publishable jokes about sex. In their headlines. On the internet.
No one expects HuffPo to show any restraint with this sort of thing, so "Sex Geckos Circle The Earth In Out-Of-Control Russian Satellite" was no surprise.
"Russians lose control of lizard sex satellite," reports a Tulsa, Oklahoma paper, and honestly, how much action do they get in Tulsa normally.
"Outlook grim for orbiting Russian zero-G sex geckos," smirked Ars Technica. "Contact lost with satellite containing five suddenly unlucky lizards."
Al Jazeera went with a sci-fi nod: "Lust in space: Russians lose control of gecko sex satellite"
"Satellite full of sexually experimental geckos adrift in space," blurted The Independent.
The Wire opted for a relatively demure and multisyllabic approach: "Russia Lost Contact With Its Satellite of Copulating Geckos."
"Russian space sex geckos struggle for survival as their satellite spirals out of control in Earth orbit," blurts the Daily Mail, which I won't link to.
Total buzzkill The Guardian, not once mentioning all the hot gecko-on-gecko action: "Russia loses contact with satellite full of geckos."
"Officials unable to contact animal-carrying spaceship," intones the ever-sober SpaceFlightNow.
The flies, geckos, plant seeds and microbes may die a slow and lonely death in their Russian space-sex-coffin, but one thing is clear: they left hungry headline writers with at least one day's worth of good content.
And that is a legacy a lizard can be proud of.