Keeping your hands to yourself is something that is taught to kids from a young age. Its a lesson that teaches two very important things — follow instructions and don't touch people (or things) when they shouldn't (or don't want to) be touched. But now and again, this lesson even needs to be repeated to some adults. Case in point, Vice President of the United States Mike Pence. During a recent trip to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Mike Pence touched NASA equipment labeled "do not touch" and NASA's clap back (and the rest of the internet's clap back, for that matter) was pretty much perfect.
The photo, which has since gone viral, captures the vice president guilty as charged. In the photo, Pence can be seen placing his hand on a piece of equipment clearly labeled "Critical Space Flight Hardware 'DO NOT TOUCH'" on it with a look of determination on his face. This is ironic on so many levels. It show that Pence isn't exactly the best at reading signs — or just chooses to ignore signs altogether — and that he more than likely believes he has the privilege to forgo a warning.
While many people on Twitter weren't happy about it, NASA was fine with Pence touching the equipment (although the subtle dig about the visibility of the "do not touch" sign in their response was kind of perfect).
NASA Spokesperson Jen Rae Wang said in a statement on Twitter:
The signs are there as a day-to-day reminder, including the one visible on the titanium Forward Bay Cover for the Orion spacecraft. Procedures require the hardware to be cleaned before tires are bonded to the spacecraft, so touching the surface is absolutely okay. Otherwise, the hardware would have had a protective cover over it like the thermal heat shield, which was nearby.
Pence, of course, had a solid explanation for why he touched the equipment. According to a tweet sent out on Friday, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio "dared" him to do it.
Although NASA said it was OK for him to touch the piece of equipment and Pence remained light hearted about the gaffe, people on Twitter had some pretty hilarious reactions to Pence putting his hands somewhere they probably shouldn't have been:
In all seriousness, Pence said some pretty important things during his visit on Thursday. In a speech, Pence vowed that the United States would "send astronauts to the moon and Mars" and that Trump is a "champion" for the American space program. Trump's record with NASA and space has actually been pretty good. In March, the president signed a bill authorizing funding for NASA and reiterated his wishes to send astronauts to Mars.
It's great that Pence and the Trump administration is paying a bit more attention to space exploration — but perhaps they need to pay a bit more attention to reading signs as well.