In this photograph, Vice President Mike Pence is touching an item labelled "Critical Space Flight Hardware". What is it? Has the photo been doctored?
The coverage by the Washington Post says:
During a visit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday, Vice President Pence solemnly reached out and touched the Orion spacecraft's titanium forward bay cover, placing his full palm just below a sign that read: “Critical Space Flight Hardware 'DO NOT TOUCH.' "
The manufacturer has an article which discusses the forward bay cover in some detail.
Parachutes aren’t built to withstand the 5,000-degree temperatures upon re-entry – they would be too heavy and unable to generate enough drag to slow the spacecraft down – so the forward bay cover protects them until just the right moment.