Students for the Exploration and Development of Space

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Students for the Exploration and Development of Space
Founded October 30, 1980
Founder Peter Diamandis, Robert D. Richards, and Todd B. Hawley
Type Student Organization
Focus "to promote the exploration and development of space"
Origins Started at MIT and expanded by letter to Omni Magazine
Area served
Method Student Collaboration and Connections with Space Companies
Key people

Hannah Kerner (current SEDS-USA Chair),

Saumya Vats (current SEDS-India president), Jeremy Nickless (current UKSEDS Chair)
Endowment Currently SEDS-USA building national endowment.
Slogan Ad Astra per Ardua!
Website, [4]

Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) is an international student organization whose purpose is to promote space exploration and development through educational and engineering projects.[1]


Students for the Exploration and Development of Space was founded in 1980 at MIT by Peter Diamandis, Princeton University by Scott Scharfman, and Yale University by Richard Sorkin,[2][3] and consists of an international group of high school, undergraduate, and graduate students from a diverse range of educational backgrounds who are working to promote space. SEDS is a chapter-based organization with chapters in Canada, India, Israel, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Philippines, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States. The permanent National Headquarters for SEDS-USA resides at MIT and that of SEDS-India at VIT University. Each chapter is fairly independent and coordinates activities and projects in its own area.


SEDS was founded on 17 September 1980, primarily by Peter Diamandis, Scott Scharfman, Richard Sorkin, Robert D. Richards, and Todd B. Hawley and their first meeting was held on Thursday, 30 October 1980.[4] After the initial meetings in 1980, SEDS president Peter Diamandis wrote a letter to the editor of Omni magazine deploring the status of the space program and asking students to help make a difference. The letter, published in Omni in early 1981, attracted students from around the world to SEDS. This laid the foundations for the first SEDS international conference, held at George Washington University between July 15–19, 1982.[5] As the decade progressed, SEDS continued to have more international conferences, which rotated among schools including George Washington University (again), University of Alabama in Huntsville, and Caltech. During the end of the decade, UKSEDS was founded at the Science Museum (London) and held their first conference at the University of Cambridge during 25–26 November 1989.[6]


During the 1990s, SEDS continued to host a national conference each year, sometimes in conjunction with the International Space Development Conference through 1997, when the last "SEDS National Conference" was held (conferences would re-appear 7 years later as the "SEDS SpaceVision Conference"). UKSEDS continued to have national conferences at rotating locations each year. During the last years of the decade there was a major decline in SEDS leadership and a connected drop in the number of member chapters around the United States.


In 2004, the SEDS National Conferences were re-established by MITSEDS and hosted on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on November 11–14.[7] The conference was renamed the SEDS SpaceVision conference and featured many speakers who would return year after year during this decade, including Loretta Hidalgo, founder Dr. Robert Richards, Rick Tumlinson, George Whitesides, Robert Zubrin, and Pete Worden. The SpaceVision conference then visited University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2005), University of Central Florida (2006), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2007), Texas A&M University (2008), University of Arizona (2009), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2010), University of Colorado at Boulder (2011), University at Buffalo (2012), and Arizona State University (2013). SpaceVision 2014 will be hosted by UNC Chapel Hill[8][9] During this time, UKSEDS continued to have one national conference each year. SEDS India, after hosting the SEDS International conference in 2007, continued with SEDS India National Conferences every year since 2009 at VIT University, Vellore, India. SEDS also began exploring innovative national projects such as fund-raising for a joint SEDS chapter Zero-G flight and designing an innovative national Rockoon competition modeled after the Ansari X PRIZE.

Active SEDS-USA projects[edit]

SEDS-USA organizes annual and rolling projects to engage its members in space-related activities. Two such projects are:

SEDS High-Power Rocketry Competition[edit]

This is a competition between chapters designed to challenge students in high-power rocketry.[10] The goal of the competition is to launch a rocket, designed and built by the chapter members, to an altitude of 10,000 feet above sea-level. This competition has now successfully run for 2 years. The winner of the 2012 competition was Purdue-SEDS.

Student NewSpace Business Plan Competition[edit]

Started in 2011, this competition is co-organized with the Space Frontier Foundation [11] and aims to provide students with a real-world experience in entrepreneurship applied to the space industry. Students are required to develop space-scalable business models that will advance the NewSpace movement and are judged by a panel of 5 experts who have had several years of experience in space entrepreneurship. The winners of the 2011 and 2012 competitions were Illinois State University[12] and Iowa State University respectively.

Organizational structure[edit]

SEDS is organized by country, region, and chapter. There is a large contingent of SEDS chapters in the United States, which are governed regionally and nationally by SEDS-USA. SEDS India has nine SEDS chapters under it with its headquarters at VIT University. There are also other national sections of SEDS across the world and these disparate groups of students communicate and organize together via SEDS-Earth, the global governing body of SEDS. SEDS is also an organization member of the Alliance for Space Development.[13]


SEDS-USA is the governing body of all chapters in the United States. It is overseen by a national Board of Directors, Board of Advisers and a Board of Trustees. An integral aspect of SEDS-USA is the Council of Chapters (CoC). This council consists of national representatives of each chapter and is led by the Director of Chapter Affairs. The CoC meets via teleconference once every two weeks to exchange updates between individual chapters and the national board. The 2013–14 national directors of SEDS-USA are listed below.[14]

Position Description Board Member
Chair Preside over board and oversee decision-making process. Andrew Newman (Virginia Tech)
Vice-Chair Alumni and Advisers liaison. Leads fundraising efforts. Zach Pace (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Director of Finance Keep financial records and control legal and financial matters. Ben Stenson (University of California - San Diego)
Director of Chapter Affairs Conduct CoC meetings and work with SEDS-USA chapters. Emily Judd (University of Central Florida)
Secretary Set up meeting rooms for SEDS-USA national meetings and take minutes. Miekkal Clarkson (Arizona State University)
At-Large (1) Work on general tasks that require action within SEDS-USA. Mehmet Akbulut (Boston University)
At-Large (2) Work on general tasks that require action within SEDS-USA. Ethan Kayser (Purdue University)


UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (UKSEDS) is the UK’s national student space society. They support students and enthusiasts across the United Kingdom by running space projects, hosting conferences and workshops, and doing outreach to inspire and educate. They build links between different parts of the space community within the UK and internationally.

UKSEDS began in 1988, when several students who had attended International Space University (ISU)'s first Space Studies Program which was held at MIT made the decision to set up the organisation in the UK. A founding conference was held in March 1989 at London’s Science Museum, with a full conference at Cambridge University in November of that year.


SEDS-Canada are a federally incorporated not-for-profit organization based in Toronto, Canada, whose mandate is to advocate for the exploration and development of space through non-partisan political advocacy, conferences, student competitions, and chapter grants. The organization was initiated in early 1981 by entrepreneur Bob Richards, and it was re-established in 2014 by a group of students from the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario after several years of inactivity. SEDS-Canada currently has six university chapters operating across the country.

As part of their advocacy goals, SEDS-Canada seeks to engage Canadian policy makers and electoral candidates at all levels of government in a multi-year effort with the aim of defending cuts to good space policy, and campaigning for new policies to ensure Canadian leadership in niche areas of space exploration and development.

SEDS UAE[edit]

The SEDS UAE Chapter is based at the Our Own English High School in Abu Dhabi. This chapter was founded by a high school student, Nishith Khandwala. Members of SEDS UAE engage themselves in various activities and programs such as the International Asteroid Search Campaign.[15][16]

SEDS in Northeast India[edit]

Though SEDS is a very famous student society served worldwide, its vision has yet to spread in Northeastern India due lack of modern views about space science among the present teenage population. Still, there have been initiatives by SEDS-India to establish its chapters in the northeast. In this initiative with the help of Angaraj Duara, alumni of Maharishi Vidyamandir Shilpukhuri, Guwahati, SEDS INDIA established seven chapters in Assam (between August and September 2013) in - Army Public School Narangi, Sharla Birla Gyan Jyoti School Guwahati, IIT-Guwahati, Handique Girls College, Royal Global Institute - RSET Guwahati, Donbosco Public School Panbazar and at last Tezpur University. SEDS-APSN was the first chapter among SEDS chapters in the northeast of India. Later it was decided to constitute a SEDS-NorthEast Chapter to govern SEDS activities in the northeast.

SEDS - APSN Chapter - A Chapter under SEDS-India[edit]

Students for the Exploration and Development of Space - APSN
SEDS-APSN logo.jpeg
Founded August 20, 2013
Type Student Organization
Focus "to promote the exploration and development of space"
Area served
Army Public School, Narangi
Method Student Collaboration and Connections with Space Companies
Key people

Miss Monmi Goswami (then SEDS-APSN Staff Coordinator)

Bishal Baishya (then Head of Projects)

On 2 August 2013, when it was decided SEDS-India to spread SEDS' vision in the school and establish chapters like the SEDS - APSN Chapter in Northeast India as well, to support student enthusiasts in the school by helping, hosting the SEDS - APSN site, and doing.[17]

Due to reasons unknown, the SEDS-APSN Chapter was closed/dissolved on 30 November 2014, but the initiative of SEDS has helped students know about collective vision planning.

Notable student leaders[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "What is SEDS?". Retrieved 2008-09-05. [dead link]
  2. ^ Diamandis, P., "Space Interest Group for Students," Omni, July 1981, pp 14-15.
  3. ^ About SEDS, [1]
  4. ^ "Logbook Cover and Meeting Minutes," 1980, SEDS History Project.
  5. ^ "SEDS 1982 Program Documents", 1982, SEDS History Project.
  6. ^ "SEDS 1989 History", 1989, SEDS History Project.
  7. ^ "SpaceVision 2004 Website", 2004, MITSEDS.
  8. ^ "SpaceVision 2014 website", 2014, [2].
  9. ^ "SEDS SpaceVision Conference Notes", 2008, SEDS Wiki.
  10. ^ "SEDS High-Power Rocketry Competition"
  11. ^ "Student NewSpace Business Plan Competition"
  12. ^ "Student NewSpace Business Plan Competition - 2011 Winners"
  13. ^ ASD Members, Alliance for Space Development, retrieved March 4, 2015 
  14. ^ "SEDS-USA Board of Directors,"[3].
  15. ^ SEDSUAE website
  16. ^ IASC website
  17. ^ Kumar, Adarsh; SEDS - APSN Chapter; Army Public School, Narangi. "SEDS-APSN". SEDS - APSN. Guwahati, Assam, India: Army Public School, Narangi. Archived from the original on 20 November 2015. Retrieved 20 November 2015. 
  18. ^ Whoriskey, Peter (2013-08-12). "For Jeff Bezos, a new frontier". Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-08-10. At Princeton, the high achiever seemed to continue his geeky triumphs. He was president of a club called Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. He was elected to two honor societies, Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi. He graduated summa cum laude. 

External links[edit]