Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) is a nonprofit and international student organization that focuses on space exploration advocacy and pursues the development of the sector through engineering and educational projects.

Established in 1980, Peter Diamandis at MIT, Scott Scharfman at Princeton University and Richard Sorkin of Yale University founded each branch of the organization. It consists of an international group of high school, undergraduate and graduate students from diverse educational backgrounds who seek to promote space. A chapter-based organization, SEDS holds divisions in Canada, Israel, India, Mexico, Nepal, the Philippines, Nigeria, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Spain, Turkey, Zimbabwe, the UK, and the United States.The United States’ national headquarters resides at MIT. While collaboration between the branches happens regularly, each branch and chapter operates independently of the other and organizes its own activities and projects.

In the 1990s, SEDS continued hosting its annual national conference, sometimes in collaboration with the International Space Development Conference until 1997, when the last SEDS National Conference was held. However, conferences restarted seven years later as the SEDS SpaceVision Conference. UKSEDS continues to hold national conferences at different locations every year. In 2004, the SEDS National Conferences were re-established by MITSEDS, renamed the SEDS SpaceVision conference, and featured many speakers who return yearly during this decade, including Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides, Rick Tumlinson, George T. Whitesides, Robert Zubrin, and Pete Worden.

Active SEDS Projects

Currently, SEDS-USA organizes yearly and ongoing projects to engage its members in space-related ventures. Two such projects include:

SEDS High-Power Rocketry Competition: The competition, held between the various chapters, is designed to challenge students to develop high-power rocketry. The competition’s goal is to launch a rocket to an altitude of 10,000 feet above sea level. The project is to be collaboratively designed and built by members. The competition has been successful for several years now.

Student NewSpace Business Plan Competition: Established in 2011, this competition is co-organized by the Space Frontier Foundation. The experience provides students with real-world experience in entrepreneurship, specifically within the space industry. Students are asked to develop scalable space business models that will advance today’s NewSpace movement. Selected by a panel of five experts who have dedicated years of experience in space entrepreneurship, the winners are generally teams from top universities.

It’s no surprise that SEDS is helping to pave the way for young minds interested in space exploration. It’s storied history has shown the dedication many have to the space sector. Blue Origin’s leader and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Eric C. Anderson, the co-founder and chairman of Space Adventures, Ltd., the first commercial spaceflight company, were both notable student leaders of SEDS chapters. If that says anything about the progress its dedicated members can achieve, then we will be getting closer to the stars in no time.