Mike Pence visits Kennedy Space Center, ignores ‘do not touch’ sign on space equipment

Click to play video: 'Pence declares U.S. will return to moon, land on Mars'
Pence declares U.S. will return to moon, land on Mars
WATCH ABOVE: Vice-President Mike Pence declares U.S. will return to moon, land on Mars – Jul 7, 2017

U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence raised eyebrows and existential fears Thursday, when he ignored a conspicuous “Do Not Touch” sign and touched a piece of critical space flight equipment anyway.

Pence’s slip occurred during his visit to the Orion spacecraft clean room in NASA‘s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with centre director Bob Cabana, Senator Marco Rubio and horrified photographers looking on.

Twitter users also took notice.

The faux-pas came amid criticism of Pence’s appointment as chair of the recently revived National Space Council (NSC), which some Americans have found incompatible with the conservative former Indiana governor’s statements on science and evolution.

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In 2002, Pence told the U.S. House of Representatives that he believed in Biblical ideas of human origin.

“I believe that God created the known universe, the Earth, and everything in it including man, and I also believe that some day, scientists will come to see that only the theory of intelligent design provides an even remotely rational explanation for the known universe,” Pence said at the time.

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Then, in 2005, Pence authored a Republican Study Committee report that called on President George W. Bush to cancel NASA’s Moon and Mars exploration initiative.

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But that didn’t stop him from talking up American space exploration during his Kennedy Space Center visit Thursday, as he proclaimed to the assembled audience of space centre workers and astronauts that “we will put American boots on the face of Mars.”

He also provided another strangely-worded statement, declaring that, “under President Donald Trump, American security will be as dominant in the heavens as we are here on Earth.”

Pence also reminded the audience about NASA’s glory days of lunar exploration and concluded, “We will get back to winning in the 21st century and beyond.”

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