WASHINGTON — Mike Pence set social media abuzz Thursday with a photo of him touching a piece of NASA space equipment clearly marked “do not touch.” On Friday, the vice president jokingly blamed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for it.
“Sorry @NASA…@MarcoRubio dared me to do it!” Pence tweeted, along with a photo emphasizing Rubio’s position in the incriminating photo.
Pence was at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, to discuss the administration’s goals for American space exploration. During his tour of the facility, Pence laid a hand on part of the Orion spacecraft. The vice president also joked that it was perhaps not the first time his hand had gone astray.
Rubio, for his part, played along with the accusatory tweet, quipping that he warned Pence “you break it, you own it.”
According to NASA, there was no harm done.
“It was okay to touch the surface,” the agency tweeted. “We were going to clean it anyway.” They added that “it was an honor to host” Pence.
In a statement, a NASA spokesperson explained that the “do not touch” signs are “there as a day-to-day reminder.”
“Procedures require the hardware to be cleaned before tiles are bonded to the spacecraft, so touching the surface is absolutely okay,” the statement read. “Otherwise, the hardware would have had a protective cover over it.”
This latest incident is not the first time that Rubio has found himself at the center of viral fame involving the Trump administration. Last month, social media went wild over a photo of a seemingly awkward embrace of first daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump. At the time, Rubio opened a mock “investigation” into the encounter. It does not appear that the Republican senator will be launching an “inquiry” into the NASA photo, however.