NASA Says Pence Was OK to Touch Hardware Despite Sign

Vice President Mike Pence joked that Florida Senator Marco Rubio "dared" him to touch it

A photo of Vice President Mike Pence touching NASA hardware clearly marked "Do Not Touch" took off on social media Friday, inspiring scores of gags and memes.

The "Do Not Touch" signs in the vicinity at the Kennedy Space Flight Center "are there as a day-to-day reminder," but the "Critical Space Flight Hardware" in question was "absolutely okay" to touch, NASA told NBC News.

"Procedures require the hardware to be cleaned before tiles are bonded to the spacecraft, so touching the surface is absolutely okay," said NASA spokeswoman Jen Rae Wang. "Otherwise, the hardware would have had a protective cover over it like the thermal heat shield, which was nearby."

Pence played along with the viral moment, joking on Twitter that Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, "dared" him to do it.

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