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Tsai tours NASA, 1st visit by Taiwanese president

2018/08/20 10:26:34

Houston, Aug. 19 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) visited the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Sunday, the first visit to a U.S. federal agency made by a Taiwanese president.

In the final transit stop of her nine-day trip to Paraguay and Belize, two of Taiwan's 18 diplomatic allies, Tsai arrived in Houston Saturday on the second transit stop on U.S. soil of her trip, following the first in Los Angeles last week.

In her 27-hour stay in Houston, Tsai went to NASA, visiting the Mission Control Center of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, the command post for American astronauts, where she received a briefing from NASA Flight Director Royce Renfrew.

Soon after her visit to NASA, Tsai said on her Facebook page that astronaut Michael Fincke, who accompanied her on her tour of the space center, told her that the NASA international space station flew over Taiwan three-and-a-half hours earlier.

Tsai also posted photos showing Mission Control Center, asking her Facebook followers whether they could recognize the place, where humans have achieved many space missions to allow people to have a broader view about the universe.

During her stay at the control center, Tsai toured the astronaut training area and visited other facilities such as the Soyuz spacecraft and simulated space stations of American, Japanese and Russian astronauts.

On Friday, Tsai said she was grateful to the United States for arranging her stopovers in Los Angeles and Houston, which the local media has described as a breakthrough in regard of the current ties between Washington and Taipei.

When Tsai stopped over in Los Angeles, she visited the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office's (TECO) Culture Center in Los Angeles, making her the first Taiwanese president to visit one of the country's representative offices based in the U.S.

Tsai also gave a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, her first public address in the U.S. since she took office as president.

Tsai is scheduled to return to Taiwan late Monday Taipei time.

(By Sophia Yeh and Frances Huang)