The planet Mars is to leave the Solar System, following a shock referendum result that has sent seismic ripples through the space exploration community.
The result of the vote means Mars is now committed to withdrawing from the group of eight planets – a lengthy and complex process that is being referred to as “Sexit”.
In a statement, Charlie Bolden, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), said: “This could have catastrophic implications for the free movement of astronauts on future manned missions to Mars, and raises serious questions about what happens to the unmanned Rovers residing on the planet when Sexit is finalised.”
A staple of school science lessons for decades, Mars has featured prominently in classic feature films such as “Invaders from Mars”, “Mars Attacks”, and a modern reimagining of H.G. Wells’s “The War of the Worlds” by legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg.
A spokesperson for Spielberg said: “This is a dark day for science-fiction cinema and alien-invasion films, but Steven remains committed to more Jurassic Park remakes and Indiana Jones sequels.”
Added the spokesperson: “And Jaws 5.”
Virgin Galactic billionaire, Sir Richard Branson, said business partners are already pulling investment in light of the planet’s withdrawal, and confirmed that sister organisation The Spaceship Company had suspended production of all future vehicles in the spaceline fleet.
Mr Branson went on record to state that his opinion that Mars leaving the Solar System would damage investment in intergalactic travel was shared by “every single person who has contacted us for a refund on their SpaceShip Two tickets”.
Former jingle-writer Jeff Wayne, however, had a more positive outlook: “This is yet another fantastic opportunity to update my musical version of ‘The War of the Worlds’ as the original record’s 40th anniversary will soon be upon us!”
When asked if there was any danger the announcement could potentially lead to an update of his musical version of “Spartacus”, Wayne declined to comment.
Meanwhile, scientists from NASA are due to host an emergency summit with European Space Agency (ESA) counterparts to discuss the Sexit vote as pressure mounts on the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to “reconsider” Pluto’s categorisation in 2006 as “not actually a proper planet at all”.