Looking Back, Moving Forward

2013 has been a fantastic year to Arizona State University’s chapter of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS-ASU). Just a few of the things we have accomplished this year include hosting a very successful convention, winning the chapter of the year award, and having several of our members elected to the national organization. As we reflect on our accomplishments this last turn around the sun, we want to give you a peek at our current efforts to extend the reach of students into the final frontier.

For SEDS-ASU, fall semester was a whirlwind of excitement, culminating over a year of planning that resulted in the soaring success of SpaceVision 2013. Four days of panels, booths, late-night brainstorming, keynote speakers, mixers, and a five-star banquet ended with SEDS-ASU being awarded Chapter of the Year. With our industry partners, over 23 chapters, and 400 students attending, SpaceVision 2013 showed that ASU is a mecca for ideas that expand the borders of human reach into the cosmos.

Amidst the hubbub of talks on faster than light travel and the discovery of huge stores of water beneath Gale Crater, the council of chapters and the board of directors met behind closed doors. The results of this being two of our own members welcomed into the national administration. Jack Lightholder has been awarded the Vice Chair, and John Conafay is to be Treasurer.  Congratulations to both of them, and we wish them luck in their new positions on the national committee.

Looking to the future, we see a second launch of the Dust Devils microgravity experiment aboard a ZERO-G flight. Investigating the coagulation and electrification of dust particles in a weightless environment, the Microgravity team hopes to find inspiration for a model of the mechanism behind protoplanetary disc formation and the genesis of asteroidal masses. This mission will take off from Johnson Space Center this April.

Finally, a new startup project called MarsTrac is making headway towards its goal of bringing open source to outer space. Using publicly sourced plans and leveraging 3D printers, the group aims at designing off-world construction equipment using in-situ resources. Concurrently, SEDS-ASU has been investing time in certifying members in machine shop skills and building a crash course in 3-D design. If last year was any indication, Arizona State University has only just begun making its mark on the universe.

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One thought on “Looking Back, Moving Forward

  1. Of the five professional space conference-type events I attended and presented at in 2013—Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop (TVIW), Huntsville, AL, Starship Century, UC San Diego, CA; National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference (ISDC), San Diego, CA; Icarus Interstellar’s Starship Congress, Dallas, TX; and SEDS’ SpaceVision 2013—SEDS SpaceVision conference at ASU was the stand-out event for me.

    The caliber of presenters was extraordinary, only matched by the passion and enthusiasm of the attendees themselves. In the company of keynote speakers Bill Nye and Phil Plait, and presenters such as Harold White and Chris Lewicki, it was an honor to have been invited to be a presenter myself.

    (As nearly the sole presenter on the topic of interstellar space exploration, I was also excited to have participated. Here is that presentation: https://soundcloud.com/humannaires/mike-mongo-seds-spacevision .)

    SpaceVision is like no other space professional event because SEDS members have a clearer, more informed, and better-focused vision of humankind’s space future than any other voluntary space organization I know of. SEDS members are future superheroes of space. SEDS members are not space professional wannabes; they are space professional gonnabes.

    Yet on top of this was the remarkable SEDS-ASU as well as ASU itself. The ASU SEDS chapter did a phenomenal job of managing this event. It was more like a professional event management team was running the show than it was a group of impassioned and educated volunteers. Believe me, no conference runs smoother than SEDS SpaceVision 2013 did! No doubt many of your presenters would agree. SEDS-ASU and ASU were the perfect choice for hosting SpaceVision 2013.

    Allow me to continue: I met more individuals who I have maintained meaningful contact at SpaceVision 2013 than any other conference I can recall except perhaps DARPA’s 100 Year Starship Public Symposium, Orlando, FL, 2011—and that event cost over a million dollars to produce with over 1000 attendees and hundreds of the greatest minds on the planet. Yet at SpaceVision 2013, I felt as if I were talking to some of the up-and-coming greatest minds on the planet. I am certain that of the 300 or so attendees at SpaceVision 2013, a number of the future professionals I had the pleasure and opportunity to engage will be among tomorrow’s greats. And I have built a reputation on being right about such things. Just to name a few: Jim Crowell, Danny Pagano, Jack Lightholder, John Conafay, Hannah Kerner, Joseph Finkiewicz, and Catherine Bonga.

    SEDS-ASU itself is practically chock full of future notables. Sometimes greatness shows up all at one place and at one time. It is my guess that SpaceVision 2013 was such a time and place.

    Finally, I can hardly wait for 2014 at UNC/ This year, based on SpaceVision 2013 at ASU, I have made a formal recommendation to the board of Icarus Interstellar: “We have got to be there!”

    Keep up the good work, and once again, thank you. SEDS-ASU has set an amazing benchmark for all other SpaceVisions to follow.

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