SEDS Mourns Astronaut Neil Armstrong

August 25, 2012 in News, Press Releases by dmpastuf

August 25, 2012

Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, USA (SEDS) mourns the passing of Dr. Neil Armstrong, the first human to set foot on the moon.  Armstrong passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures according to a statement from his family, and was 82 years old.

“Many Students first learn about Space exploration through the great accomplishments of the past, like Armstrong’s  historic and heroic landing on the Moon.  This was a journey that he himself said only had a 50-50 chance of success” SEDS Executive Board Chairman Dan Pastuf said, “Because of the groundwork Armstrong laid down, young people have been inspired throughout the world to pursue the limits of where we can explore.”

Armstrong joined the Astronaut corps in 1962 as part of “the New Nine”, the second group of Astronauts selected by NASA.  He first flew in space on Gemini 8, which included a rendezvous and docking, the most complex space mission up to that point.  The mission almost resulted in disaster when the Gemini and its docking target began an uncontrolled roll, as a result of a thruster on the Gemini capsule being stuck in the on position.   Armstrong was able to disconnect the vehicles maneuvering system, by shutting down the errant thruster but the vehicle was left almost completely uncontrollable forcing the mission to be shortened.  He returned to space for the historic Apollo 11 flight, taking humanities first steps on another world at Tranquility Base on the Moon on Monday, July 21, 1969.

After his return from the Moon, he announced his intention not to fly in space again.  He was appointed as the Deputy Associate Administrator for aeronautics for what would become the  Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, then retired from both it and NASA in 1971.  He went on to become a professor at the University of Cincinnati, teaching students for over eight years before retiring in 1979.  Armstrong throughout his life was able to act and inspire students.

“Neil Armstrong has always greatly motivated me, and shaped my steps towards my college career,” said Board Member Daniel Zhou, a current student of Armstrong’s Alma Mater, Purdue University, “Today marks a sad day for all Boilermakers in the US, and abroad and across Purdue alumni family. As we all mourn Armstrong’s passing, we must also remember his past achievements and accomplishments. Not only did he pave the way for space exploration for the United States, he will always be a source of inspiration for our generation, and for the generations to come, as we ask ourselves, ‘why explore space?’”

“There are some people that do the ‘impossible’ things and challenge us to go beyond reasonable expectations. Neil Armstrong has not only given us this challenge and inspired us to reach beyond the stars,” SEDS Executive Board Vice Chair Sara Meschberger said, “but he through his life and passion he has given us hope to achieve ‘impossible’ dreams for generations to come.”

Armstrong leaves a legacy of being the first man to step on the face of another world.  NASA and Armstrong’s work is one of the greatest technological accomplishments in the history of mankind.
“While many see the landing of Apollo as the conclusion of the great challenge set in front of us by President Kennedy, it was only the beginning,” Pastuf said “the trailblazing efforts lead by Neil Armstrong and others must be continued as we reach farther into cosmos and return to the Moon and beyond.”

Media Contact: Dan Pastuf
Chairman, SEDS-USA
Phone: (202) 656-7337

About SEDS:
The Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) is the world’s only independent, fully student-run, pro-space nonprofit organization. Founded in 1980 by students frustrated with the stagnation of NASA after Apollo, SEDS has inspired tens of thousands of students to pursue careers in science, engineering, and technology. SEDS supports a network of over 30 student chapters across the United States, hosts the largest student run space conference in the world, SpaceVision, provides students opportunities to develop their leadership skills and professional networks, and inspires others through their involvement in space-related projects. Alumni can be found throughout the space industry in both traditional and “New Space” companies. For more information visit:

Remembering Darrell Cain

July 31, 2012 in News, Press Releases by dmpastuf

Today the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space mourn the passing of one of our greatest leaders and alumni, Darrell Cain, after a long fight with cancer. As an MIT SEDS leader, Todd B. Hawley Leadership Award recipient, former SEDS USA Executive Board member, and most importantly a friend, Darrell will be missed by all.

No words could even begin to describe the impact Darrell had on this world. His enthusiasm for life and passion for space influenced countless students and professionals during his 27 years. Darrell was one of the most intelligent people you could meet and put 110% into everything that he did.

Former SEDS USA Chairman Joshua Nelson said, “Darrell was the glue that held us all together. He was the reason people came to meetings, solved their differences, and made each and every one of us know we were part of something special.”

Darrell began his experience in SEDS at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and served as a leader of his chapter throughout his tenure. His efforts with his chapter were vital to the successful re-establishment of the the national organization, the MIT chapter, and the SpaceVision national conferences. He was elected to the position on the board as Director of Chapter Affairs, where he served for a year, re-invigorating the chapters and serving as a catalyst for building new ideas and programs across the country. He continued his work at Stanford University, influencing even more students there.  True to Darrell’s form, even sickness couldn’t prevent him from being actively involved, attending conferences, participating in SEDS-USA discussions and impacting the organization until the very end.

In honor of Darrell’s service and commitment to the next frontier, today we are establishing the Darrell Cain Award of Excellence. This award will honor Darrell, who was able to impact many through his efforts and inspire others to pursue the cause of space exploration. In keeping with Darrell’s efforts, this award will be given each year in memory to an individual whose efforts have served to inspire students to be involved and promote our goal of becoming a spacefaring civilization.

SEDS would like to extend our condolences to the Cain family and offer our support in this time of mourning.

ISDC: SEDS Student Track

April 22, 2012 in News by SEDS Projects

Working on a space related project? Conducting space related research? Share your work! This year, SEDS in conjunction with the National Space Society is working to establish a larger university level presence at the annual International Space Development Conference and is seeking students to attend and present. ISDC 2012 will be held in Washington DC from May 24 – 28 at the Grand Hyatt, the Student Track will be held on Sunday, May 27th.

You can learn more about the SEDS Student Track as well find the call for Student Speakers and SEDS Project Presentations at:

Learn more about ISDC at .

NOVA: The Life Issue

April 1, 2012 in News by dmpastuf

NOVA Winter 2012

The NOVA is now available for download on!  “The Life Issue” focuses on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), a robotic rover named “Curiosity,” which is now on its way to the red planet.  In this issue, you will find a discussion of what it is that makes a planet habitable, an overview of the MSL rover, and a review of Gale Crater – the landing site selected for this flagship mission. In addition to all that, we’ll introduce you to the SEDS-USA executive board and look back on the 2011 High-Powered Rocketry Competition.

2nd Annual SEDS High-Powered Rocketry Competition Announcement

January 16, 2012 in News, Press Releases by SEDS Projects

SEDS-USA is happy to announce the 2nd annual SEDS High-Powered Rocketry Competition.  The goal of this competition is to design, construct, and launch a high-powered rocket carrying a minimum .5 kg payload to a height of 3050 meters (10,000 feet) above ground level, as measured by a standard altimeter.  A design report will be due to the Competition Coordinator at the beginning of April and all teams must launch and submit final documentation by July 30th, 2012.  The winning chapters will be announced at SpaceVision 2012.


  1. This competition is open to participation at no cost to Students for the Exploration and Development of Space USA chapters. If non-SEDS USA chapter student groups or organizations wish to participate in the competition, a $20 entry fee is required. Contact for details.
  2. All designs must use our new standard altimeter, the PerfectFlite Stratologger. The altimeter needs to be tested prior to installation to ensure it is working condition, with documentation submitted to the Competition Coordinator for confirmation. NOTE: The PerfectFlite MAWD is no longer in production which lead to the change in altimeter.
  3. All rockets must not exceed a maximum total impulse of 5,120 Newton-seconds (maximum motor size of Class L). All rockets must carry a payload of at least .5 kilograms in order to be judged.
  4. Scoring:
    1. Launches at or above the 3050 meter goal
      1. All teams achieving the set goal of 3050 meters will receive 10 points.
      2. At completion of the active portion of the competition, total rocket masses will be compiled into a descending list by mass. Starting with the heaviest qualifying rocket (receiving 0 points for weight), each successively lighter rocket down the list will receive an additional point (ie, the 6th heaviest rocket will receive an additional five points added its score)
      3. 2 additional points will be granted for any team that includes a launch camera as part of their payload. This camera must successfully record footage for the majority of the flight
      4. Up to 8 additional points may be awarded for unique payload data acquisition (2 points awarded per sensor, data must be included in final documentation).  Possible payload sensors may include: GPS, gyro, pressure, temperature, relative humidity, solar irradiance and ultra-violet radiation sensors.
    2. Launches below the 3050 meter goal
      1. For launches failing to make the 3050 meter goal, a score out of 10 points will be granted based on the ratio of the altitude achieved to the maximum altitude, rounded to the nearest second decimal (ie, a 2000 meter launch will result in a score of 6.56 points).
    3. Final scores from the three categories will be collated and used to determine the final standings and winner of the competition.
    4. In order to compensate for the effects of launches at high-altitude launch sites, .0002 times your launch altitude in feet will be subtracted from your score. This offsets the much reduced engine/ vehicle mass necessary to achieve the 10,000-feet above ground level target height at these higher altitudes.
  5. All “competition” launches will be conducted locally by the build team. However, a representative from a competing team must be present at the launch to confirm fair practice.
    1. If no competing team members are capable of attending the launch, stand-in representatives from other nearby SEDS chapters, SEDS affiliates, or industry members can be discussed with the Competition Coordinator if notified at least a month prior to launch.
    2. In the case of a previously indicated representative not attending the arranged launch day, the Competition Coordinator must be contacted immediately in order to discuss emergency representative selection.
    3. Note: An acceptable alternative to having another team representative visit, as well as an acceptable alternative to having to go through much of the necessary launch paperwork, is to coordinate with a local Tripoli/ NAR chapter and launch on one of their launch days. A member of these organizations can act as an independent judicator on your launch if the Competition Coordinator is contacted a month prior.
    4. Note: SEDS-USA highly encourages chapters to perform regional launches together. This reduces the amount of paper work and traveling for everyone involved, and is a lot more fun!
  6. All launches must be performed entirely through rocketry; no specialty launch systems (ie, Rockoon, projectile launching) are permitted.
  7. All rockets must be successfully recovered with minimal damage. Successful recovery much be documented by the team and the competing team representative.
  8. All teams seeking to participate must contact the Competition Coordinator to indicate their interest by March 9th, 2012.  A design report will be due on April 6th, 2012.  These deadlines are firm to allow teams ample time to build and launch their rockets before the final documentation due date  of July 30th, 2012.
    1. The design report should consist of the team’s rocket design, how they plan to build the rocket, and a flight plan. Information should include components, anticipated performance, assembly steps, CAD model, as well as at least two possible launch: sites, representatives, and dates.
    2. All teams must record (via digital video camera) and/or photograph the design and construction of their vehicle, as well as its launch which should be submitted with final documentation.
    3. Launch dates, representative identities, as well as launch results / finalized altimeter and weight information must be submitted to the Competition Coordinator as soon as possible after they have been acquired.
  9. All teams and launches must abide by local laws and FAA regulations for unmanned rocket launches. Safety must take the highest priority in launch preparations. Local laws must be researched by participating groups.  The National Association of Rocketry has a list of FAA regulations that you may wish to read thoroughly.
    1. Notable FAA Regulations
      1. Proper notification to the nearest FAA ATC facility must be performed no less than 24 hours prior to launch.
      2. For all FAA Class-2 Launches, authorization for launch must be applied for at least 45 days prior to launch.
      3. No launches when clouds or other obscuring phenomena of more than five tenths coverage prevails, where horizontal visibility would be less than five miles during launch
      4. No operation of rockets in clouds, or between sunset and sunrise
      5. No operations within 8 miles of any airport boundary without prior FAA authorization
      6. Reasonable fire-prevention / control precautions must be taken
    2. Notable BATFE Regulations
      1. You can purchase any APCP motor or reload kit without a BATFE permit.
      2. Though nearly all ammonium perchlorate composite rocket motors are unregulated, some items commonly used in high powered rocketry are regulated by the BATFE. These include igniters (this includes electric matches), igniter cord (the now very hard to find thermalite), and black powder (for separation charges).
      3. Black powder is generally easy to buy, BUT if you run afoul of the law with a can of BP in your car you could be charged with illegal transport of explosives.  An alternative to Black Pyrodex and other Black Powder Substitutes are often used in rockets, as they are classified under smokeless powder regulations as opposed to Black powder regulations.
      4. Federal law prohibits transportation of explosives by anyone other than an BATFE permittee/licensee. (With an exception for commercial transport via common carriers like FedEx)
      5. You can apply for an BATFE permit to store regulated explosives in a magazine locally. This process and instructions are available at
      6. An easy way to avoid BATFE issues is to participate in a rocket launch supported by an BATFE-regulated rocket motor vendor. The vendor is normally able to drive motors and igniters to the launch for you to buy on site and use on site at the launch in your rocket.
  10. It is strongly encouraged that competing teams compile rocket build, launch and analysis data into a formal report that includes: all launch details, rocket weight readings, altimeter heights, rocket launch witness verifications and other documentation.  The Competition Coordinator reserves the right to award up to an additional 2 points for adhering to a formal documentation process.
  11. Launch data must be submitted to the Competition Coordinator by July 30th, 2012 in order to be judged. Winners will be announced November 11th, 2012 at SpaceVision 2012.  It is encouraged that competing teams attend SpaceVision 2012 but teams that will not be able to attend should contact the Competition Coordinator.
  12. Information on prizes will be made available ASAP but may include: tickets to a luncheon event with VIPs at SpaceVision 2012, free registration to a space conference of your choosing (SpaceVision, International Space Development Conference (ISDC), NewSpace, or SpaceUp), discounts on future rocket parts, t-shirts or other chapter awards.

Competition CoordinatorMichael Zwach, Director of National Projects


Legal Disclaimer: The legal points outlined here are guidelines, and are not intended to be a comprehensive description of the laws surrounding rockery.  High power rocketry is a dangerous sport if done incorrectly, and you, the launcher, are responsible for all state, federal, and local rules surrounding the launching of rockets.  SEDS-USA  is not responsible for any damage or loss.  Use your head, SAFETY FIRST.


2011 SEDS Holiday Competition

December 27, 2011 in News by SEDS Projects

The SEDS Holiday Competition had many great submissions this year, thank you to all the chapters whom submitted entries!  The SEDS Executive Board has selected to feature the University of Michigan’s submission (below).

From everyone at SEDS, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!


Honorable Mentions:

Purdue University

University of North Carolina

2011 SEDS High-Powered Rocketry Competition Results and Reports

November 30, 2011 in News by SEDS Projects

Purdue University 2011 Rocket Competition Launch

The SEDS 2011 High-Powered Rocketry Competition was completed in November 2011 with three teams competing to launch a rocket to altitude of 10,000 feet with a 4 kg payload.  For more information about the 2011 competition please see here.

The winners of the 2011 competition are:

1. Arizona State University

2. University of Central Florida

3. Purdue University

SEDS-USA congratulates the winning teams and commends a great job to all of the chapter competitors!  Prizes for the finalists include a medallion for each winning chapter and a t-shirt for every winning team participant!

SEDS-USA acknowledges that competitors of the 2011 competition needed to overcome many harsh challenges such as fundraising, balancing the competition with school, and waiting for launch sites to become available in the fall after a late harvest to complete the contest.  SEDS-USA looks forward to doing a partial redesign of the competition in 2012 to lighten some of these third party challenges and encourages teams to look for future SEDS rocket competitions.

Final reports and documentation of the winning competitors can be found here:

2011 ASU SEDS High Powered Rocketry Competition Write-Up

2011 Purdue SEDS High Powered Rocketry Competition Documentation

2011 UCF SEDS High Powered Rocketry Competition Pictures


Questions and comments regarding the 2011 competition please email:

Director of National Projects at  projects[at]

SEDS 2011-12 Board Announcement

October 30, 2011 in News by SEDS Chair

This Saturday at the SpaceVision 2011 conference in Boulder, Colorado, 21 chapters voted to elect the following students to the SEDS-USA board during the 2011-12 year to represent their best interests: Continue reading “SEDS 2011-12 Board Announcement” »

SEDS Third Quarter NOVA Magazine Released!

October 18, 2011 in News by SEDS Publications

SEDS Members, Friends, and Visitors,Q3 2011 Cover

SEDS-USA is proud to announce the release of the Third Quarter 2011 NOVA Magazine!  In this exciting issue, you can read updates from what our chapters have been up to, learn the scoop about the supernova in M101, and find out what’s new in SEDS.  Take a look back at what SEDS was like in years past and make sure to check out the Alumni Spotlight featuring an extensive collector.  You can find the newest edition of the NOVA by clicking here!

- David Holewka, SEDS-USA Director of Publications

Past versions of NOVA Magazine can be viewed by going to


Read about Executive Board Candidates Online

October 18, 2011 in News by SEDS Chair

If you are a member of SEDS-USA, please take the time to read about the current executive board candidates on our website. Many positions are still completely open, so we encourage you to submit your candidacy for any and all positions of interest to you. Voting will occur during SpaceVision 2011 on October 29. We need your help to grow the student space revolution!