Park visits NASA space flight center

October 14, 2015
South Korean President Park Geun-hye walks past a NASA logo during a tour of projects and programs that are underway at the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015, in Greenbelt, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

South Korean President Park Geun-hye walks past a NASA logo during a tour of projects and programs that are underway at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015, in Greenbelt, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

By Kim Kwang-tae

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) — President Park Geun-hye on Wednesday visited the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, a move that underscored South Korea’s efforts to strengthen cooperation with the U.S. on space initiatives.

She received a welcoming message from an astronaut in the International Space Station and a briefing on NASA’s Mars exploration program before touring facilities at Goddard.

Goddard Space Flight Center, set up in 1959, is a high-tech research institute for space exploration. It operates, among other things, the Hubble Space Telescope.

The visit came as South Korea and the United States are pushing space cooperation as a new frontier of their alliance that has long been associated with security cooperation against the threats posed by North Korea.

The trip to the space flight center came 50 years after Park’s father, then-President Park Chung-hee, visited the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Park also called for expansion of cooperation between South Korea and the U.S. on space programs.

South Korea is seeking to launch its lunar orbiter and a moon probe by 2020.

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