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SEDS USA Competitions and Presentations

SEDS USA has a membership of about 1,500 graduate and undergraduate students at 48 universities across the United States. SSPI began work with SEDS USA in 2014 with our first panel session at their annual SpaceVision conference, and the partnership has expanded with each succeeding year.


2022-2023 Competition: Mars Gateway

NASA has commissioned a Lunar Gateway to serve as a space station in orbit around the Moon to support human exploration. It will serve as a multi-purpose outpost that provides essential support for long-term human return to the lunar surface and serve as a staging point for deep space exploration. Based on what is known about the Lunar Gateway mission, design a spacecraft to serve as a Mars Gateway supporting the same purpose and specify vehicle design and mission requirements.  MORE


2020-2021 Competition: Manufacturing the Future in Space

The future of the space economy – with an estimated value of $1.1 trillion over the next 30 years – depends on breakthroughs in how space structures and systems are built. The model of building everything on Earth and launching it into space is forbiddingly expensive. The obvious solution is in-space manufacturing (ISM), whether in Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars or the asteroid belt. Achieving that solution, however, requires an enormous convergence of technologies, new business models and treaties governing human activity in space. In this competition, student teams will select a specific location (Earth orbit, planetary surface, asteroid belt), research the technical and regulatory challenges and the current and proposed solutions for ISM in that location, then write a “future history” from the year 2050 of how manufacturing moved into space.  MORE


2019-2020 Competition: Taking Out the Trash

Space debris is an issue of growing concern, with the potential to block access to space.  The Kessler Syndrome was proposed by NASA scientist Donald Kessler in 1978: a scenario in which the density of objects in low earth orbit is high enough that collisions between objects could cause a cascade, where each collision generates space debris that increases the likelihood of further collisions.  The distribution of the resulting debris could render space activities and the use of satellites unfeasible for many generations.  In 2019, we challenge students to research the problem from engineering, technical, policy and business perspectives and recommend practices to prevent it and technology solutions to remove it.  MORE


2018-2019 Competition: Designing the Robotic Space Tug?

As we begin to open up space to new opportunities, from new orbits to new applications, both commercial and government organizations are exploring the creation of a new orbital vehicle. In 2018, we challenge students to envision a multi-purpose space tug designed to operate in Earth orbit and cislunar space by defining its service requirements, markets to be served, and technical capabilities, together with an estimation of deployment and operating costs. MORE


2017-2018 Competition: Connecting the Space Economy

Commercial satellite operators are already thinking about designs for communications satellites that not only point their antennas down at Earth but upward to support future communication requirements of the Space Economy.  In 2017, we challenge students to determine what communication capability will be needed to support operations in Earth orbit and far beyond, how much can existing technology contribute and what technology advances may be required, and what will it cost to create a basic network capability and see it deployed. MORE


2016-2017 Competition: Solving the Space Solar Power Puzzle

In 2016, we challenge student teams to identify current and future advances in launch systems, small sats, lunar or asteroid mining, space assembly and manufacturing, optical communication and other fields that will make it possible to place solar power generating satellites into GEO orbit, as well as physical, safety and regulatory obstacles that such a system will need to overcome in transmitting that power to the Earth’s surface. MORE

2015-2016 Competition: Satellites Around Mars

SSPI Mentors coach and evaluate student teams exploring the feasibility of launching two communications satellites into Mars orbit to provide communications between the Martian surface and Earth. MORE

Mentoring Students at SpaceVision

SSPI organizes panel sessions at each SpaceVision conference where students learn about the size, scope and pioneering technology of the satellite industry, and get hands-on advice on resumes, job interviews and the hiring process. Our panelists have included:

  • Grace Polhemus, HR Manager
  • Lorie Booth, Senior Manager, Mission Operations, and Michael Mosier, HR Generalist, DigitalGlobe
  • Joe Amor, General Manager, Microspace Communications
  • Cornelia Naumof, HR Manager Americas, and Zak Wilcox, Network Operations Center Manager, O3B Networks
  • Paul Unger, President, NBS Search
  • Edward Ashford, President, Ashford Consulting


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