U.S. vice president Mike Pence has been caught in the act.
Last Thursday, July 6, during his visit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Pence touched the Orion spacecraft’s titanium forward bay cover with his full palm. A sign visibly read: “Critical Space Flight Hardware ‘DO NOT TOUCH.’”
Pence Joins Mockery, NASA Says No Need To Apologize
Twitter and internet users feasted on the photo, which was captured by Mike Brown of Reuters. The tweets and photoshopped images prompted a wave of memes on social media.
NASA released a statement on Twitter, emphasizing that it was all right to touch the surface and that those are mere “day-to-day reminder signs.” They are going to clean the equipment anyway, the U.S. space agency added.
By Friday afternoon, Pence was already in on the joke, tweeting a blurred version of the image. His response showed the face of Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida circled and the message “Sorry @NASA … @MarcoRubio dared me to do it!”
Next, the vice president posted a photoshopped image of him petting a porcupine, the caption reading: “Okay … so this isn’t exactly the first time this has happened.”
Currently under development, the Orion spacecraft will serve as an exploration vehicle for future human exploration of asteroids and planet Mars. Just last month, aerospace firm Orbital ATK successfully test-fired a rocket motor created for the spacecraft, forming part of its Launch Abort System (LAS) for spaceflight safety.
Pence’s Visit And US Space Investment
Amid the vice president’s seeming faux pas, Pence’s recent visit centered on the government’s commitment to space exploration. He expanded on the benefits to national economy and security as he detailed a plan for exploration and reestablishing the National Space Council, Forbes reported.
Occasions like this are believed to reexamine the country’s spending on NASA, which is at around $19 billion.
It’s well worth the money, Forbes continued, in light of projects such as the military-run, NASA-supported Global Position System (GPS) satellite constellation. GPS, built into phones, cars, drones, and other everyday devices, is believed to save lives and significantly help reduce pollution through increased transport efficiency.
Great value is also seen in communications satellites, weather satellites, and other security-related systems funded via NASA.
Just recently, NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) was officially scrapped due to lack of financial backing. The initiative is supposed to capture a boulder-sized rock from an asteroid and send it into orbit around the moon, as well as to prevent potential asteroid collision with Earth.