Students for the Exploration and Development of Space

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Students for the Exploration and Development of Space
FoundedOctober 30, 1980
FounderPeter Diamandis, Robert D. Richards, and Todd B. Hawley
TypeStudent Organization
Focus"to promote the exploration and development of space"
OriginsStarted at MIT and expanded by letter to Omni Magazine
Area served
MethodStudent Collaboration and Connections with Space Companies
Key people
Charlie Nitschelm (current SEDS-USA Chair), Roxy Fournier (current SEDS-Canada Chair), Shranchit Sachdeva(current SEDS-India president), Jacob Smith (current UKSEDS Chair)
EndowmentUSA: $290,000, [4], [5]

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, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, and United States. The permanent National Headquarters for SEDS-USA resides at MIT and that of SEDS-India resides at Vellore Institute of Technology. Though collaboration is frequent, each branch and chapter is independent and coordinates their own activities and projects.


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 Whitesides, founder Dr. Robert Richards, Rick Tumlinson, George T. 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 Vellore Institute of Technology, 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.

International Branches[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 and is headquartered at Vellore Institute of Technology. There are other national sections of SEDS across the world, notably SEDS-Canada, SEDS South Africa, and UKSEDS. Student leaders of the international groups convene as SEDS-Earth, the global governing body of SEDS. SEDS is an organization member of the Alliance for Space Development.[13]


TypeNon Profit Student Organization
Focus"To promote the exploration and development of space."
Area served
MethodStudent Collaboration

SEDS-USA is the governing body of all chapters in the United States, and is the largest and original branch of SEDS. 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 Chair of the Council of Chapters. The CoC meets via teleconference to exchange updates between individual chapters and the national board. The 2019–20 national directors of SEDS-USA are listed below.[14]

Position Description Board Member
Chair Preside over board and oversee decision-making process. Charlie Nitschelm (University of New Hampshire)
Vice-Chair Alumni and Advisers liaison. Leads fundraising efforts. George Sarkodie (University of North Texas)
Treasurer Keep financial records and control legal and financial matters. Matthew Barr (University of Massachusetts Lowell)
Chair of the Council of Chapters Conduct CoC meetings and work with SEDS-USA chapters. Ian Burrell (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)
Secretary Set up meeting rooms for SEDS-USA national meetings and take minutes. Chanel Richardson (Duke University)
Member At-Large (1) Work on general tasks that require action within SEDS-USA. Eitan Lis (The Ohio State University)
Member At-Large (2) Work on general tasks that require action within SEDS-USA. Mauricio Martinez (Texas A&M International 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. Their current chair is Jacob Smith.

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 is 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 eleven 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.


Space Exploration and Development of Space Turkey, founded in March 2017 by Hadican Çatak at Hacettepe University, is the first and only national space and entrepreneurial organization with its 350+ active members and branches in 8 universities as of January 2019.

SEDS TR's goal is to gather all interested undergraduates, master's degree students, and doctoral students and to carry out tasks that help them improve their career prospects in their field of activity by establishing a common working platform.

In order to reach this goal, SEDS TR has been working on engineering projects, organizing events and extending its area of effect by founding SEDS organizations in universities throughout Turkey and in respect to this, SEDS is trying to make operations and work done mentioned above accessible to every other student in Turkey.[15]


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, Nishirth Khandwala. Members of SEDS UAE engage themselves in various activities and programs such as the International Asteroid Search Campaign.[16][17]

SEDS South Africa[edit]

SEDS-South Africa is South Africa's national student Space society, and is the governing body of all SEDS chapters in South Africa. SEDS South Africa is made up of students and young professionals in Southern Africa who are interested in Space exploration and development. This includes engaging government policymakers, amateur satellite building, model rocketry, manufacturing in Space, student and young professionals collaboration, connecting with the Space industry, ham amateur radio, analogue Space missions, Space exploration, and Space technology to benefit humankind.

SEDS South Africa facilitates the education of people about the benefits of Space, by supporting a network of interested students and young professionals, and providing opportunities to inspire them and develop their leadership skills. SEDS South Africa's founding chapter is the University of Cape Town, SEDS-SA-UCT.

SEDS India[edit]

TypeNon Profit Student Organization
Focus"To promote the exploration and development of space"
Area served
MethodStudent Collaboration
Key people
Dr. Geetha Manivasagam (Trustee of SEDS India)

SEDS-India is the governing body of SEDS in India with its headquarters at Vellore Institute of Technology. SEDS India was founded in 2004 by Pradeep Mohandas and Abhishek Ray. The first chapter was established in Mumbai at PIIT, New Panvel. SEDS India governs affiliated chapters in India at various universities, including Vellore Institute of Technology, Veltech University, Birla Institute of Technology & Science Pilani-Goa, Sri Ramakrishna Engineering College and SASTRA University. Chapter affairs are controlled by the Local Chapter Committee which reports to the Executive Board of SEDS India. The Executive Board of SEDS India consists of six Board Members who are selected through a voting process, with all individual members of SEDS India being eligible to vote. The Permanent Trustee of SEDS India is Geetha Manivasagam, Vellore Institute of Technology. The advisory panel has multiple dignitaries on its board, including the Associate Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Center.

The main outreach program of SEDS India is called OneSpace. OneSpace was founded to spread awareness about and engagement with space among underprivileged children in rural India and children residing in local orphanages. Attempts have also been made by SEDS India to outreach to northeast India, where access to space education and technical projects is more difficult. These efforts were led with the help of Angaraj Duara, an alumnus of Maharishi Vidyamandir Shilpukhuri, Guwahati, and established seven chapters in Assam. They are the 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 Tezpur University. SEDS-APSN was the first chapter in northeast India. A separate SEDS-NorthEast governing body oversees activities in the northeast.

SEDS Singapore[edit]

SEDS Singapore
TypeNon Profit Student Organization
Area served
Key people
Jun Kai (President SEDS-SG)

Ian Wu Ling (President SEDS-NUS)

Kim Hyun Ji (President SEDS-NTU)

SEDS-Singapore , founded in July 2019 by a group of students from National University of Singapore and the Nanyang Technological University, is the first and only national space and entrepreneurial organization in Singapore. The goal of SEDS Singapore is to provide a platform for students of all backgrounds based in Singapore to actively participate in ushering in a new space age.

Currently, there are 2 SEDS chapters under SEDS Singapore. SEDS-NUS based in National University of Singapore and SEDS-NTU based in Nanyang Technological University.

Current Active Projects Of SEDS Singapore:

Project Chapter
Mars Rover Challenge SEDS-NUS
High Altitude Balloon SEDS NTU

SEDS Sri Lanka[edit]

Notable student leaders[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "What is SEDS?". Archived from the original on December 16, 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-05.
  2. ^ Diamandis, P., "Space Interest Group for Students," Omni, July 1981, pp 14-15 Archived 2008-05-12 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ About SEDS
  4. ^ "Logbook Cover and Meeting Minutes," 1980, SEDS History Project Archived 2008-05-12 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "SEDS 1982 Program Documents", 1982, SEDS History Project Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "SEDS 1989 History", 1989, SEDS History Project Archived 2008-05-12 at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "SpaceVision 2004 Website", 2004, MITSEDS.
  8. ^ "SpaceVision 2014 website", 2014, [1].
  9. ^ "SEDS SpaceVision Conference Notes", 2008, SEDS Wiki Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ "SEDS High-Power Rocketry Competition" Archived 2013-11-27 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Student NewSpace Business Plan Competition" Archived 2013-09-19 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Student NewSpace Business Plan Competition - 2011 Winners"
  13. ^ ASD Members, Alliance for Space Development, retrieved March 4, 2015
  14. ^ "SEDS-USA Board and Staff,"[2].
  15. ^ "SEDS Türkiye,"[3].
  16. ^ SEDSUAE website
  17. ^ IASC website
  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.
  19. ^ Community, Wikipedia. "Early life and education". Eric C. Anderson - Wikipedia. Retrieved 8 March 2019.

External links[edit]