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He goes to the moon in India, and the country is pumped

NEW DELHI – It's 10 am on a stifling Delhi day and it's time for classes in space.

Like many junior high school students, Veronica Sodhi, a 12-year-old with big dreams, says that the space class is her favorite subject, but on Friday there was something even more special.

India is ready to send a robotic rover to roar around the south pole of the moon, which is a huge step forward for its space program. The rocket starts at 2:51 on Monday, and the expectation evokes national pride.

Indian children are sending YouTube messages fortunately to the national space agency; V.I.P. approaching the launch site in a remote coastal area near Chennai; a small six-wheeled rover crawls on the first pages of all newspapers; and telecasters use patriotism through special broadcasts on "The greatest space adventure in India."

In K.R. Mangalam World School near New Delhi, a place for children from the upper middle class – on the ground floor there is an ice rink – Veronica and her classmates were pumped.

"Children," asked Harjeet Kaur, a space-class teacher, "why did we call this mission" Chandrayaan "?"

Veronica fired from the desk so fast that she almost tipped the chair behind her.

"Because-it-means-moon-and-vehicle," she said in one breath.

"Everyone is clapping for her," said the teacher. "Is there another country that sent a mission to the southern pole of the moon?"

"No!" Students shouted.

"We are all proud Indians, yes, students?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"I really can not hear you."


"It would be really nice to walk on the moon," Weronika whispered a moment later. "I mean, a bit like a wandering, but really cool."

The moon mission is a bold move for every country, but especially for one who has hundreds of millions of people still stuck in poverty.

But this is the puzzle of India. It is also a place of modernity, a source of scientific and technical skills. Its software developers are known as one of the largest in the world, and every year its universities pump thousands of highly talented scientists and engineers, experts in the field of cutting-edge technologies.

Space fits this.

A big reason why Prime Minister Narendra Modi he won re-election in May, is so popular that he pressed for more powerful, more assertive India, wishing to gain his place as a superpower.

Just weeks before the start of the election – commentators said the time was a bit fishy – Mr. Modi announced that India has just shot down a satellite that is flying 17,000 miles an hour 150 miles above Earth. Few countries can do this.

This is not even the first lunar mission in India. In 2008, the moon probe Chandrayaan did not land, but I discovered particles of water on the moon.

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