Unless you live in a cave, you’ve probably seen the photo wherein Vice President Mike Pence is seen touching a piece of titanium equipment designed for outer space, seemingly oblivious of the sign “Critical Space Flight Hardware, Do Not Touch” on it. The photo quickly spawned memes of many sorts, with netizens criticizing the VP for his lack of apparent regard for the warning label. Well NASA says it’s fine, and in a tweet said the sign is just one of their “day-to-day reminders.”

VP Pence had an ‘oops’ moment

In the photo, Pence is seen reaching out and touching the hardware, which is actually the Orion’s forward bay cover.

As the name implies, it’s meant as the protective covering for the forward bay, where important hardware, including parachutes are kept. The cover will make sure the equipment are safe, especially with the outer space’s harsh environments.

The vice president had been on a tour at the Kennedy Space Center earlier this week and in perfect timing, a photographer managed to capture the instance where Pence’s hand was laid out flat against the equipment. Naturally, the internet had quite the reaction. The hilarity is all over the web right now, calling out the official for being “handsy.”

To pacify the qualms of the people of the internet, NASA retaliated with a tweet and said, “we were going to clean it anyway.”

"Procedures require the hardware to be cleaned before tiles are bonded to the spacecraft, so touching the surface is absolutely okay", NASA explained as per Live Science.

However, there’s still no word whether VP Pence knew about this beforehand, or maybe for some reason missed the warning label.

The Orion spacecraft

The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion MPCV) is designed to carry astronauts and facilitate exploration of asteroids and Mars, located at or beyond low Earth orbit. Additionally, one of its purposes is to retrieve supplies or the crew themselves aboard the International Space Station.

The design elements of the Orion are quite similar to the Apollo, which took the very first humans to the moon, but NASA says the Orion MPCV is far more advanced. The spacecraft has the capability of supporting long trips outer space, with up to 21 days active crew time plus six months quiescent. The next-generation capsule is currently under construction for a mission "beyond the moon" in 2018 according to NASA.

Those who have been following the meme know by now that VP Pence has apologized and responded to the uproar, and blamed the whole thing on Marco Rubio.

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