David Woods

27 May 1999.

___I would like to add my voice to those who are mourning to loss of Maxim Tarasenko. Maxim apparently died in an automobile accident Friday evening, cutting short what promised to be a brilliant career.
___Maxim was born in Protva, in the Kaluga Region south of Moscow on 20 June 1962. He received a Diploma with Excellence, Physicist-Engineer in Spacecraft Dynamics and Flight Control from the Department of Aerophysics and Space Research of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) in 1985. He studied shockwave dynamics for his graduate work and was awarded a PhD (Candidate of Science) degree in Physics and Math with a specialty in Fluid, Gas and Plasma Dynamics by MIPT in 1988. Maxim became a Research Associate at MIPT and Chair of Continuous Media upon graduation.
___His plans had been to work in aerospace engineering, but upon graduation he became interested in space policy and the history of cosmonautics, both domestic and foreign. In the early 1990’s he spent a year as a visiting student at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University in New Jersey. The next year he was a Visiting Fellow at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in Chicago where he studied Science and International Security journalism.
___From 1991 to the present he was a Research Associate at the Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies at MIPT where he developed an independent expertise of national space activities, conducted analyses of space programs and policies both in Russia and abroad, and became an internationally recognized expert on space program histories. His special interest was the development of both the Soviet and American space programs through the Cold War. The last of several times that I saw Maxim was at an arms control conference held at Cornell University in New York where he was to deliver several papers. This was just one of many international speaking engagements of his. He had delivered a paper on the ’Reorganization of the FSU Space Program and Its Influence on Space Activities Worldwide’ at the IAF in Graz, Austria in 1993. His 1994 IAF paper in Jerusalem, Israel was entitled ’From Confrontation to Competition and Cooperation: Roadblocks and Bypasses’. The list of papers and international places is too long to go into at this point. I mention these two just to convey the scope of his international status and recognition as a scholar and researcher of the history of space exploration and its political implications. Although I am sure there are other pictures of him elsewhere on the web, the only one that I know of is one that Sven Grahn has on his web site of the two of them at the IAF in Beijing, China: http://www.users.wineasy.se/svengrahn/histenth.htm.
___Maxim was the author of numerous books and articles as well, with his most recent probabily being one in the latest issue of Novosti Kosmonavtiki. Igor Lissov and Igor Afanasyev are both correct that his tragic death will represent a tremendous loss to the space history research community.
___One might expect that someone with such an impressive resume would be very arrogant and distant, but that was absolutely not the case with Maxim. My first trip to Moscow was in 1995, and Maxim kindly made arrangements for me for transportation and access to a number of space program related facilities in the Moscow area. I came back to Moscow the next year for the first of the FPSPACE workshops. Charles Vick and I made arrangements to come over several days early. Maxim set up local accomodations for the both of us in what was one of the most enjoyable trips of my life. Five of us packed into a little Russian automobile going all over Moscow to see the sights. We saw so many things that absolutely would not have been possible without Maxim’s intervention. For example, that is a picture of me climbing up the ladder of the earliest LK Soviet manned lunar lander spacecraft at Kaliningrad College, literally across the street from the TsUP in Korolov (http://www.fpspace.org/kkkmt/lab.htm ). At the 1997 FSPACE workshop there was some free time before the conference got underway, so Maxim, Igor Afanasyev, Mike Cassett, Charles Vick and t went on a tour of Moscow checking out model shops and book stores for space program related items.
___I opened my remarks by saying that Maxim’s death has cut short what promised to be a brilliant career. On two recent, separate occasions, researchers, one from the New York Times, needed someone to accompany them to Baikonur for some work they were doing on the history of the Soviet/Russian space program. Maxim was at the top of both of their lists as the one they needed for their work. Maxim took along a camera and shot some incredible pictures from the N-1/Energia-Buran launch facility and of the Proton area. He sent the film over here and I made up sets of prints for the various interested parties. I mention this only to say that Maxim was gaining an international reputation as THE one individual with the depth of knowledge and connections to cover just about any aspect of cosmonautics. Just before his death, be was considering accepting a position as the Moscow bureau chief for an internationally famous aerospace publication.
___My last e-mail from Maxim was just a week or so ago, but, as I mentioned earlier, the last time I saw him was when he was at Cornell University, which is about 30 miles north of my home. I brought along some pictures I had shot while I was in Moscow of various spacecraft instrument panels, and I was hoping that he could translate some of them for me. Most were simple acronyms that meant absolutely nothing to me, but Maxim knew what just about every one was. I think back to that beautiful clear blue sky day in August, sitting at a picnic bench outside one of the campus buildings looking at a stack of spacecraft photos with Maxim. A truly brilliant individual who had extended so many kindnesses to me and to others, as people like Jim Harford has mentioned. I will always remember Maxim, for the all too brief period of time that I got to know him and the many favors and acts of kindness that he extended to me. He is irreplacable and will truly be missed by so many of his friends.