One of the geckos used in the Russian reproduction experiment.

One of the geckos used in the Russian reproduction experiment. Photo: federalspace.ru

Moscow: Five geckos launched into space by Russia for an experiment on sexual reproduction in near-zero gravity were found dead on Monday after their spacecraft returned to earth, the Russian space agency Roscosmos announced in a statement.

The reptiles, popularly called the "sex geckos" because of their mission, gained notoriety in July when Roscosmos briefly lost contact with their Foton-M4 satellite and feared that its life-support systems might have failed. But communication with the satellite was re-established, and the experiment continued.

A colony of fruit flies aboard the spacecraft survived the flight.

"All the geckos, unfortunately, were killed," the agency wrote on its website. "The date and conditions of their deaths is being determined by specialists."

New York Times