NASA spokeswoman Jen Rae Wang said in a statement released Friday afternoon that “the 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. Otherwise, the hardware would have had a protective cover over it like the thermal heat shield, which was nearby,” she said.
NASA said in a tweet that it was “an honor to host” Pence, adding of the hardware, “We were going to clean it anyway.”
It was OK to touch the surface. Those are just day-to-day reminder signs. We were going to clean it anyway. It was an honor to host you! https://t.co/gu8zxknsJv