“They ripped me off,” said Jupiter. “I paid for a whole year’s subscription, but they only gave me 365 days.”
Photo by Julia Wong
When Pluto first lost its status as the ninth planet of our solar system, it was widely believed that the reclassification was due to Pluto being too small to be a proper planet. Other, less common reasons posited that it was only a moon, that it was actually a speck of dust on the Lawrence Lowell Telescope lens, or that the other planets got jealous and rejected it from the solar system. However, the journal Recent Developments in Astronomical Drama recently published the true rationale for the planet’s reclassification as a dwarf planet.
As it turns out, NASA has been supplementing its budget by charging celestial bodies a yearly subscription to remain an official planet of the solar system. Their service, known as Solarfy, offers “multiple competitive tiers of subscription for planets wishing to become part of the Solarfy family.” In order to qualify, planetary bodies must rotate about an axis, orbit the Sun, and pay the full subscription fee on their own. Once these criteria are met, planets have the option of subscribing to three tiers of subscription packages.
A NASA spokesperson elaborated on the details of the subscriptions, saying, “The most popular package is the Orbital plan, which includes up to 25 moons, James Webb Telescope observation time, and a guaranteed unmanned mission within the next 90 years. Planets looking for extra luxury should opt for the Event Horizon plan, which includes all Orbital plan features and expands benefits up to 200 moons as well as the guaranteed launch of at least one rover or telescope to that planet within the next 70 years. Finally, Solarfy offers the Budget plan, which includes no moons, but allows orbital bodies to maintain their planetary status and receive some observation by the Hubble Space Telescope.”
In 2006, it was discovered that Pluto and its moon Charon were splitting the cost of the subscription. Solarfy’s legal team stated that this was confirmed when a payment was sent from an unfamiliar Wells Fargo checking account and a different InterPlanetary (IP) address. Since moons are not permitted in the Budget Package and copayments with any other parties are not allowed, Solarfy claimed that Pluto directly violated its user agreement terms and terminated the contract.
Upon learning the true reason for Pluto’s demotion, many took to Twitter to share their thoughts. In an uncharacteristically low-view tweet, Elon Musk stated: “No one wants to honor their contracts these days. I can’t believe even space is full of striminals. I will be canceling the next SpaceX mission to send a rocket all the way to the Kuiper Belt for this reason. Definitely not because my rockets keep blowing up.” A more viral tweet, shared by Neil deGrasse Tyson, said: “Subscriptions are the way of the future. It is admirable that Solarfy did not tolerate a breach of contract by allowing two celestial bodies to share a subscription, even though they live so close together. Maybe Netflix should take notes in these trying times.”