Mike Pence

VP Pence Touches NASA Equipment Marked With ‘Do Not Touch' Sign

A sign inches above Pence's hand indicates the machinery was "critical space flight hardware"

Houston, we have contact.

Vice President Mike Pence was seen touching a piece of NASA equipment labeled "Do not touch" on Thursday, driving the internet wild.

It happened while Pence was touring the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with Director Bob Cabana and Sen. Marco Rubio. Photos show Pence reaching for a titanium cover, where a sign inches above his hand warns against touching the "critical space flight hardware."

Pence toured the space center to mark his appointment as chair of the recently reinstated National Space Council, which will advise the president on space policy and set goals for U.S. space exploration.  

Also on the trip, Pence promised NASA employees a Mars landing and a return to the moon in the agency's future: "We will grab that destiny with both hands."

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But Pence's apparent defiance of the no-touching rule prompted a flood of memes on social media, which show the vice president grabbing everything from M.C. Hammer of "U Can't Touch This" fame, to the glowing Saudi Arabian orb that went viral when President Donald Trump was seen touching it in May.

Reddit had a "Photoshop Battle" for users to create the best Pence-touch meme.

NASA Spokesperson Jen Rae Wang said in a statement Friday afternoon that the signs on the hardware -- a titanium forward bay cover for the Orion spaceship -- are there only "as a day-to-day reminder."

"Procedures require the hardware to be cleaned before tiles are bonded to the spacecraft, so touching the surface is absolutely okay," Wang said.

Pence tweeted about the incident shortly thereafter, getting in on the humor with some jabs at Rubio and himself.

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