Against a giant backdrop of his presidential website, APJ Abdul Kalam, the aero-science professor turned head of state, told an international class of space students in Strasbourg that India was set to make "important contributions" to the future of exploration with missions to the Moon and Mars.
Addressing a packed lecture hall at the International Space University (ISU) on Tuesday evening at the edge of this northeastern French city, famous for being the seat of the European Parliament, Kalam told the students drawn from around the world that space has no borders - "When we explore space, (it) can act as a motivator for national collaboration between nations."
Space is a "platform for sharing ideas and technologies and to work towards a sustainable world with peace and prosperity", Kalam said.
Before becoming president of India in 2002, Kalama was professor of Technology and Societal Transformation at the Anna University in Chennai.
Kalam, who was introduced to the students as a "president and a teacher", said space science had enabled Indian villages to taste the fruits of connectivity and had been "touching the lives of many among the billion people of India in several ways".
"Today, India with her 14,000 scientific, technological and support staff in multiple research centres, supported by about 500 industries and academic institutions, has the capability to build any type of satellite launch vehicle to place remote sensing, communication and meteorology satellites in different orbits and space application has become part of our daily life.
"India has today a constellation of six remote sensing and 10 communication satellites serving applications like natural resource survey, communication, disaster management support, meteorology, tele-education (10,000 classrooms) and tele-medicine (200 hospitals).
"Our country is in the process of establishing 100,000 Common Service Centres across the country through public-private partnership model for providing knowledge input to rural citizens," Kalam told the students at ISU that has had a long and cooperative relationship with India.
Among the alumni of the university, over one percent are from India, which ISU president Michael Simpson said "is a pretty large proportion for a school whose graduates come from 93 countries".
The ISU has in this year's master programme one Indian student and three with Indian roots, mostly from Canada, and one Indian among the staff.
Kalam will address the European Parliament on Wednesday before leaving for Athens on a four-day state visit to Greece, the first by an Indian head of state in 21 years.