On 24 July, The Moscow Times reported that Russia's mission control center has lost communications with the research satellite Foton-M4 carrying five geckos, fruit flies, mushrooms and plant seeds less than a week after its launch. The lizards were sent into orbit as a part of the study into effects of weightlessness on sexual intercourse on 18 July.
The satellite continues to transmit "telemetry," or details on the spacecraft's location and performance of its systems, but is not responding to mission control commands, a press release from the Federal Space Agency, or Roscosmos said, potentially leaving the reptiles to their out-of-this-world sexual intercourse while video footage continues to beam down to Earth.
While this news might not potentially be of any importance to an average human being outside or even inside Russia, one man was clearly traumatized by it: the host of "Last Week Tonight", John Oliver.
On the weekly Sunday program on HBO, Oliver warned his audience after showing them a clip of the news, "Don't you dare laugh at that! Don't you dare laugh at the fact that Russia has lost a satellite full of sexually active space geckos... This is like Apollo 13 all over again... Only in Cyrillic, with a quintet of Russian f*ck lessons instead of Tom Hanks."
— Last Week Tonight (@LastWeekTonight) July 28, 2014
He was upset by the fact that the scientists would toss these lizards aside after watching video of them copulating. "You watch videos of them f*cking and then toss them aside, they're not Kardashians... They're Geckos." He even asked his audience to join together in bringing back those geckos from the outer space and started the trend: #GoGetThoseGeckos.
He is clueless as how to get them back, though. "I am not a space pornographer," he clarifies. "May be a net of some sort, or a magnet. May be you've got some better ideas. Don't tell me, tell Vladmir Putin at this address." He further suggested that his viewers lobby the Russian government by visiting the Kremlin's website managed by the "The Presidential Directorate for Correspondence from Citizens and Organizations" and sending letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Russia might push back what they said yesterday and say that they re-established contact with the satellite. But they're clearly lying. They're just buying Putin enough time to run to a pet store, buy five geckos and parade them in front of us. But we don't want those geckos, we want the space geckos!" said a clearly agitated Oliver.
Eventually the lizards will take over but for now, please rescue the frisky Russian sex geckos & bring them home safely! #GoGetThoseGeckos
— Matt M. (@mattske83) July 28, 2014
As a final Hail Mary, Oliver brings in a "space gecko" to the stage, in what could be seen as an emotional appeal to the audience, and promises that he will help get those geckos back. He even got many of his celebrity friends to appeal to Putin to get those geckos back, including Regis Philbin, Richard Branson, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tim Gunn and Patrick Stewart. Even Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, fiercely spoke to the camera, loud and clear, "Go Get Those Geckos".
Many around the world have shown solidarity to the cause and have been raising awareness with #GoGetThoseGeckos and sending out messages for Putin.
— Demetrius (@fergoe) July 28, 2014
A bold woman even uncovered a sexually active gecko's "live image from the lost Russian space pod" and appealed for their safe return.
— marie (@marieaski) July 28, 2014
However, a far-sighted man was concerned whether the #GoGetThoseGeckos campaign would lead to another cold war with Russia.
It is not that Oliver doesn't realize there are events of more magnitude that needs to be dealt with before the wayward geckos orbiting around us in carnal pleasure, but he sees this as the perfect opportunity for humanity to join forces and then build on that progress.
"Almost everything is more important than this. The Ukraine is sliding into anarchy, the Ghaza seize fire is tenuous. And we're mostly powerless to do anything about any of them. But maybe, just maybe if we could come together as a civilization, we could then build on that progress. And I think rescuing these space sex geckos might just be that thing and why I'm issuing a challenge to humanity: Go get those geckos!"