Mike Pence under fire from Twitter users for touching space equipment; NASA says 'It's OK'
US Vice President Mike Pence got a first-hand look at the public-private partnerships at America's multi-user spaceport on Thursday, July 6, during a visit to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Pence commenced his visit at Shuttle Landing Facility, the former space shuttle landing strip now leased and operated by Space Florida.
However, his visit didn't go down well with Twitter users who have slammed the Vice President for touching a piece of NASA's space flight equipment when a sign next to it clearly instructs the visitor to not touch it.
The image showed Pence with his hand on part of a spacecraft-in-the-making called the Orion, despite a large sign with red lettering telling people not to touch the "critical space flight hardware", the Guardian reported on Saturday.
The photo that was circulated widely on social media on Friday, kicked off several jokes and memes on Pence.
While some posts politely reminded Pence to maintain decorum, others were not so forgiving and some even offered reasons for the vice president's personal proclivities.
"Good to know our Vice President has the self control of a sugar-charged third grader on a field trip," wrote a Twitter user.
"After six months at Trump's side, Mike Pence quietly envies the capsule for its journey to the cold, tranquil emptiness of space," said another user .
A few users even compared the image to the now-infamous photo of President Donald Trump putting his hands on a glowing orb in Saudi Arabia, the report said.
However, the Vice President apologised to NASA on Twitter, while joking that Florida Senator Marco Rubio, had dared him to do so.
NASA clarified that it was actually "OK" for him to touch the spacecraft hardware.
"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," the agency said in statement.
"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."
Pence also spoke to NASA employees thanking them for their commitment to the US' continued leadership in the space frontier.