LUNGTAN, Taiwan — Taiwan opened a space research control centre Tuesday, as part of an ambitious international project aimed at exploring the origins of the universe.

Facilities at the Payload Operations and Control Centre in the northern Lungtan township started monitoring signals transmitted from the International Space Station immediately after the inauguration.

"This is a new milestone in Taiwan's scientific and research development," President Ma Ying-jeou said at the ceremony attended by several Nobel laureates and scientists from NASA.

The centre, the first of its kind in Asia, is part of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, an international space research project launched in 1999.

Headed by Nobel laureate particle physicist Samuel Ting, the project measures cosmic rays, which among other things provide clues about the origins of the universe.