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Registration is Open for SpaceVision 2015!

spacevision_annafisher-02Everyone get excited, because registration has now officially opened for SpaceVision 2015! This year’s conference will be hosted by BU SEDS in Boston, MA November 12-15. Visit our website for updates on the latest speaker confirmations and activities planned for the conference, as well as to book a spot in our discounted room block at the beautiful Hilton Boston Back Bay hotel. While you wait impatiently for November, take some time to check out all the fun things there are to do in Boston!

Prices increase on October 12th, so register now (and invite the rest of your space family) for what promises to be the most fun, educational, and innovative event you attend this year!


I Was Supposed to Pursue an Aerospace Engineering Degree… Woops

I was supposed to pursue an aerospace engineering degree. Woops.

I was supposed to get Helio Space off the ground this summer. Woops.

Major Changes

I changed my major to computer science. I’m rather surprised myself by this decision, but looking back, it’s actually been months in the making. Last semester I was constantly lamenting the lack of space-oriented classes in the aerospace space track curriculum (there are three I would take, consisting of ~6% of all my classes). I spoke with a friend and mentor about pursuing computer science, and he encouraged me to do it. So I added it as a second major.

That was at the start of the summer. For the next couple of months, every time I played with my coursework track I found myself excited for the CS classes, and dreading the non-space aero classes. So I decided to switch, and I’m happy with my decision as it stands. Here are some of the reasons I came up with over the past few months that played a role in convincing me:

  1. I want to be involved outside of school. If I stayed aero I’d have no life balance. CS requires fewer credits, so more time for everything else!
  2. CS = $20k+ more than aerospace. So you’re telling me I can do less work in school and make more money?
  3. More opportunities in the space industry. Word.
  4. It’s more entrepreneurial. I actually am interested in more than just space, and it’s easier to apply CS to other entrepreneurial projects.
  5. And finally, I like it. This is probably the most important part. I really do enjoy it.

All said, I fully intend to stay in the space industry. And with that said, I’m now going to talk about how I’m moving out of the space industry.

Stopping a Startup

Okay, calling Helio Space a startup may be a stretch, but I did put a significant amount of time into setting up customer meetings, general planning, and research. With Helio Space I wanted to make a laser communications package and ground network for small satellites. Turns out, the problem I wanted to solve with this is being solved right now and in the near future by companies essentially doing Ground Stations-as-a-Service (GSaaS! Can I claim that acronym?). I still think it’s an awesome idea. To expand civilization into the solar system, laser communications is essential. However, the near-term business model is insufficient, so I’m putting it on pause.

I need to be working on something this summer, however, and I’ve stumbled across what I think is a simple and great idea. Its core is found in three “arguments”, specifically:

  • We don’t have enough valuable social interactions.
    • And we want more valuable interactions.
  • Social media is a good way to maintain contact with friends.
    • But we want to do more than maintain, we want to develop relationships.
  • A human can maintain 150 meaningful relationships.
    • How many meaningful relationships do you have?**

      **Assuming you’re not Justin Graves, who probably has double that.

If I choose to pursue it more seriously, I’ll write up a more detailed post about it and follow my progress on the blog.

Ad Astra!

Posted by:
Andrew Newman
SEDS-USA At-Large Board Member
Virginia Tech


The B-Word

Beware of the B-word—are you as busy as you think you are?

Original post: https://www.planet.com/pulse/the-b-word/

Having been the Chair of SEDS (Students for the Exploration and Development of Space)—a national nonprofit providing leadership and technical experience for young people passionate about space—for two years, I have met hundreds of very smart young people overflowing with potential. Yet I have been frustrated by almost as many of them for not utilizing that potential—not seizing opportunities sitting right in front of them. Time and time again I see students pass up opportunities, or not even recognize the opportunities they have, because they are “too busy.” They’re too busy with homework. They’re too busy studying for a test on Thursday. They’re too busy to do anything on top of work and school. They just don’t have time on top of it all.

When I was a participant in Square’s College Code Camp, an immersion program for young women studying computer science, the group of us sat down with Jack Dorsey for a chat. One student asked the question all busy people are inevitably asked: “You founded Twitter and Square, among the most successful tech companies in the world, and continue to run both of them on top of everything else in your life—and I’m sure you’ve got side projects too. How do you find time to manage all that?”

His response has guided me to this day. “I think of it like a trash compactor. All of these things just keep piling on, and then every now and then, you press all the additional stuff down under you and that becomes the new threshold. All that becomes the new normal.” It’s not like Jack Dorsey had some spare time on his hands after Twitter and thought he’d fill the void by starting Square. Elon Musk was probably pretty busy already when he started the Hyperloop project on top and established a new school, Ad Astra, for his children. Lori Garver went from being the Secretary for the National Space Society to being appointed by President Barack Obama as Deputy Administrator for NASA because she saw opportunities and she took them.

Students’ schedules are tight—you’re taking four or five classes, professors assign things as if you’re only taking one, you’ve got two or three exams on the same day sometimes. Certainly you are busy. In undergrad it is easy to get sucked into the deception that your grades directly correlate with your competence and level of intelligence, and that not having perfect or near-perfect grades will screw you in the long run. I have never once been asked by an employer about my grades in school. In fact, the most frequent question I get from people offering me opportunities is: “Do you have any side projects?” Literally no one cares that I got a C in Mechanics, and neither did I—yet I see students crushed by less than perfect grades.

Many students seem to think the space industry is this upper echelon that they can’t move and shake in until they finish school and get ten years of experience. But the space industry isn’t as exclusive or mystifying as it might seem. It is actually one of the most welcoming communities I have ever experienced, especially for young people because this industry is quite literally dying for young people. The space industry is recruiting like crazy, and nearly every organization, public and private, offers internships for students—and not just for aerospace engineers, but for scientists, economists, software engineers, communicators, mathematicians, nurses, and writers. There are opportunities everywhere, for all areas and levels of study. When I got my first internship at NASA during high school, the response from my classmates (and people to this day) was, “Wow, how did THAT happen?!”

How did that happen? I typed into Google, “NASA internship high school students”.

I spent three summers interning for NASA, then for Planet Labs as an embedded software engineering intern, where I’ve spent the better part of a year. How’d I get that gig? People ask me all the time… I applied through the Jobs page on their website. And don’t be fooled by the word “intern” —the best part about being an intern at Planet Labs is that you don’t do “intern work.” You are treated like any other team member, with responsibilities on par with a full-time engineer. On the Monday of my first week at Planet, I was setting up my workstation, by Wednesday I’d built more than 20 ground stations and radios, and by Friday I shipped code to more than 28 satellites. As an intern at Planet Labs I have been challenged and inspired—and gained more confidence in my technical ability—than during any other internship and my undergraduate career.

Now, there are countless private space companies offering internships in addition to the hundreds offered by NASA and “old space” companies. If you want to do something, you absolutely can find a way to do it. Not only are companies begging for your talent but nonprofits and organizations like SEDS, Space Frontier Foundation, and the National Space Society offer young people leadership positions and the opportunity to make an impact and realize your potential. If you feel like you’ve been turned down a lot, apply for more; reduce the ratio.

Students, don’t let “busy” limit your possibilities. Endless opportunities to make an impact in the space industry are there for the taking. So take them.

Posted by:
Hannah Kerner
Arizona State University


New Partnership Between SEDS-USA and Space Generation Advisory Council

SGAC Fusion Forum Group PhotoI am ecstatic to announce that SEDS-USA and the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) have agreed to support each other’s efforts officially through a Memorandum of Understanding signed this Summer. The Space Generation Advisory Council is a perfect “next step” for SEDS members looking to expand and continue their space network. SGAC is for young professionals from 18-35 involved in the space industry. Through their phenomenal networking and professional development events, such as Fusion Forum and the Space Generation Congress, the SGAC is a place for SEDS members to get involved with space policy and other self-starters in the industry.

We’re happy to see where this partnership takes us and look forward to seeing the change we can make together!

Posted by:
John Conafay
SEDS-USA Executive Director
Arizona State University


SEN and SEDS Partner on Next Space Generation Column

I am pleased to announce a new partnership between SEDS and space news website Sen today with the launch of a column written exclusively by SEDS members. This blog will be the voice of the next space generation represented by our student members, with monthly blog posts written not just by members of SEDS-USA but by members of all our affiliate organizations including UKSEDS and SEDS Canada. Read More


Purdue SEDS Will Host SpaceVision 2016

We are thrilled to announce that SpaceVision 2016 will be hosted in conjunction with Purdue University SEDS in Indiana!


Purdue University has a rich history and continued involvement in the aerospace industry. Their 23 astronaut alumni gave Purdue the nickname “Cradle of Astronauts”, including both the first man and last man to set foot on the surface of the Moon. For this reason, the theme of SpaceVision 2016 will be “Next Steps”, through which they will explore the future of human and robotic space exploration, discussing why we explore, where we will go, and the technologies and people that will bring us there. Purdue’s renowned faculty, alumni, corporate partners, and state-of-the-art laboratories provide ample support for this theme and make them an ideal host for SpaceVision 2016. Read More



Many of you remember the High Altitude Balloon (HAB) Challenge, a national competition hosted by SEDS in 2014. The competition was quite a success—twelve SEDS-USA chapters competed and five finalists were chosen. These five finalists conducted high altitude balloon experiments measuring a range of technical and environmental factors. The winners of the 2014 High Altitude Balloon Competition and their experiments are: Read More