Students for the Exploration and Development of Space
Type Student Organization
Founded October 30, 1980
Founder(s) Peter Diamandis, Robert D. Richards, and Todd B. Hawley
Origins Started at MIT and expanded by letter to Omni Magazine
Key people

Michael Zwach (current SEDS-USA Chair),

Swaminathan Kumar (current SEDS-India president)
Area served Worldwide
Focus(es) "to promote the exploration and development of space"
Method(s) Student Collaboration and Connections with Space Companies
Endowment Currently SEDS-USA building national endowment.
Members 10000+
Motto Ad Astra per Ardua!

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]

Mission statement

SEDS is an independent, student-based organization which promotes the exploration and development of space. SEDS pursues this mission by educating people about the benefits of space, by supporting a network of interested students, by providing an opportunity for members to develop their leadership skills, and inspiring people through their involvement in space-related projects. SEDS believes in a space-faring civilization and that focusing the enthusiasm of young people is the key to humankinds future in space.


Students for the Exploration and Development of Space was founded in 1980 at MIT, Princeton University, and Yale University,[2] 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 is established by on September 17, 1980 primarily by Peter Diamandis, Robert D. Richards, and Todd B. Hawley and their first meeting was held on Thursday, October 30, 1980.[3] 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.[4] 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.[5]


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.[6] 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 will be held at Arizona State University in 2013.[7] 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.

What members do

SEDS members are people interested in doing as much as they can to promote space exploration and development. The first step in this continual process is learning. SEDS provides an environment in which to obtain access to many sources of information including speakers, tours, films, discussion groups & daily NASA updates. Astronomical observing trips and tours of local space facilities also play a significant role in the life of many SEDS members.

SEDS members often take the knowledge they have gained and use it to influence the future of the space program. Students at several chapters have played major roles in organizing large conferences and have established important contacts with members of the space community. Others have helped increase public awareness of the benefits of space exploration by offering presentations to local primary and secondary schools as well as universities. All chapters keep in contact with each other through on-line computer networks.

Finally, SEDS provides an environment in which people of common interests can relax and freely discuss issues important to them.

Active SEDS-USA projects

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

SEDS High-Power Rocketry Competition

This is a competition between chapters designed to challenge students in high-power rocketry.[8] 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

Started in 2011, this competition is co-organized with the Space Frontier Foundation [9] 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[10] and Iowa State University respectively.

Organizational structure

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 head quarters 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-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 2012–13 national directors of SEDS-USA are listed below.[11]

Position Description Board Member
Chair Preside over board and oversee decision-making process. Michael Zwach (Purdue University)
Vice-Chair Alumni and Advisers liaison. Leads fundraising efforts. Kaizad Raimalwala (Purdue University)
Director of Finance Keep financial records and control legal and financial matters. Andrew Dianetti (University at Buffalo)
Director of Chapter Affairs Conduct CoC meetings and work with SEDS-USA chapters. Emily Metivier (Boston University)
Secretary Set up meeting rooms for SEDS-USA national meetings and take minutes. Mary Magilligan (University at Buffalo)
At-Large (1) Work on general tasks that require action within SEDS-USA. Derek Napierala (University of Michigan)


SEDS-India is the governing body of SEDS in India with its headquarters at VIT University. The governing body was set up in 2005 to co-ordinate the activities, projects, events and outreach of all the affiliated member chapters of SEDS India. The Executive council of SEDS India consists of six Board Members who are selected through a rigorous voting process, all the individual members of SEDS India are eligible to Vote to select their Committee. The Committee serves for a period of one year and works towards expansion of the Chapter Base in India. SEDS India has successfully conducted four Conferences in the past and shall in the coming years regularize the concept of SEDS India National Conference or the SEDS International Conference, held across 2007-2012. SEDS India has funding secured for six projects which are carried out by its Chapter Members. There have been active collaboration with various organizations in the Space Industry that guide SEDS India in the right direction. The Permanent Trustee of SEDS India is Dr. Geetha Manivasagam, Professor, VIT University. The advisory panel has various accomplished dignitaries on its board, including the Associate Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Center.

The Outreach program of SEDS India, OneSpace, has been a great success in the affiliated chapters. The main aim of the outreach program is to spread awareness about space among the under privileged children in rural India and also an extensive set of events and activities that are designed especially for the children residing in Orphanages. Children are made to learn about the importance of Space Exploration and Research at the grass root level.

SEDS India has ten affiliated chapters in India at various universities. They are VIT University, Sri Ramakrishna Engineering College, Nehru Institute of Engineering and Technology, VEL Tech, National Institute of Technology Warangal, Saveetha Engineering College, Kumaraguru College of Engineering, Indian School of Mines Dhanbad, Gyan Ganga Institute of Technology and SASTRA UNIVERSITY. The Chapter affairs are controlled by the Local Chapter Committee which reports to the President of SEDS India.

Position Description Board Member
President Presides over board and oversee decision-making process,overall representative of SEDS in India. Swaminathan Kumar (VIT University)
Vice-President Alumni and Advisers liaison. Praveen Natarajan (SASTRA University)
Secretary Set up meeting for SEDS-India national meetings and take minutes. Vignesh KM (VIT University)
Joint Secretary Events and Projects Oversee the Events and Projects under SEDS India. Gagan Preet Singh (VIT University)
Joint Secretary Public Relations and Outreach Produce public releases,educational materials about space for outreach activities and handle social media,other public interactions. Ishita Ghai (VIT University)
Treasurer Handle financial accounts. Sivaranjini B.S. (SASTRA University).


UK chapter of SEDS formed in 1988.[12]


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.[13][14]

Notable student leaders

See also


External links

  • SEDS Website
  • Map of SEDS Chapters Worldwide