UPDATE: According to Vice President of the United States Mike Pence, he touched critical NASA equipment on a dare from Sen. Marc Rubio (R-Florida).
And he even played off the stir he caused, going along with the jokes at his expense in a rare display of humanity.
Okay...so this isn't exactly the first time this has happened. pic.twitter.com/6Y7b3UlJXe— Vice President Pence (@VP) July 7, 2017
Rubio joined in as well, no stranger to spats of viral fame himself.
In turn, NASA insisted that there was no harm done and no apology necessary, tweeting that it was an honor to host the vice president.
"The ‘do not touch’ signs are there as a day-to-day reminder, including the one visible on the titanium Forward Bay Cover for the Orion spacecraft," NASA told Time. "Procedures require the hardware to be cleaned before tiles are bonded to the spacecraft, so touching the surface is okay. Otherwise, the hardware would have had a protective cover over it like the thermal heat shield, which was nearby.”
It seems like this whole kerfuffle has officially been put to bed, and the world can go back to mocking Pence for his policies, not his impulse control. The memes will live on though.
In Pence's defense, "DO NOT TOUCH" is in quotes. pic.twitter.com/E6AXhxICnn— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) July 7, 2017
One part of his job is touring NASA sites to gain some understanding of the institution's current and upcoming projects. If there was ever a time to listen to your mom and "keep your hands to yourself," it would be walking around highly sensitive hardware perfectly designed for space travel. However, that was apparently asking too much of Pence.
In a picture so perfect it looks Photoshopped (except it isn't), the vice president has his hand placed directly on a piece of NASA's Orion hardware despite a glaring sign reading, "Critical Space Flight Hardware DO NOT TOUCH."
Given that Orion is intended to fly astronauts into deep space, potentially landing humans onto an asteroid in 2025 and onto Mars in 2030, Pence should probably follow the sign's instructions.
It's human nature to be curious, but that's no excuse to succumb to temptation. That's something Pence should know a lot about.
Of course, the internet has taken this photo and hilariously run with it.
I knew it. Mike Pence can't read. pic.twitter.com/8d1dib0bFs— (((chrstphr))) (@LasagnaEveryDay) July 7, 2017
What would happen if @VP Mike Pence was stuck on the Orion spacecraft with a woman that isn't Karen? Now that'd be a great horror film.— Purbita Saha (@hahabita) July 7, 2017
Pence tours NASA— Steve Marmel (@Marmel) July 7, 2017
Sign:"Do not touch"
He can't stop, touches anyway
This is why Mother won't let him alone with girlspic.twitter.com/hoFwZkhgw6
He wanted his own orb moment pic.twitter.com/SE14czbsUq— Jim DePaolis (@wecanbanewforce) July 7, 2017
During his visit, Pence told scientists that this center was a "gateway to the stars" and vowed to make America's space program great again, although it already leads the world in space exploration and technology by a large margin.
"Here from this bridge to space, our nation will return to the moon, and we will put American boots on the face of Mars," he announced to the room full of astronauts, space center employees, and dignitaries, garnering cheers and applause from the crowd of hundreds.
Well, it's reassuring that the Trump administration seems to be going all in on the space program given their stance on climate change. After they're finished with Earth, space may not just be the next frontier, it may be the only frontier.