small logo In Memoriam:

Alexander Leonidovich Zaitsev
19 May, 1945 – 29 November, 2021
Remembered by H. Paul Shuch, Executive Director Emeritus

On behalf of The SETI League, I am saddened to report the death of my dear colleague Alexander L. Zaitsev on 29 November 2021, at the age of 76. Dr. Zaitsev had served as Chief Scientist of the Institute of Radio Engineering, Russian Academy of Sciences. A longtime SETI League member, Sasha was our Regional Coordinator for Russia, recipient of our 2013 Orville N. Greene Service Award, a strong proponent of METI (Messaging to ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) science, and conducted numerous transmissions to the stars from the Evpatoria Radio Telescope in Ukraine.

I, having been educated in the United States during the post-Sputnik era, was a direct beneficiary of advances in American scientific and technological education. These advances were largely a result of Western fear of Soviet technical superiority. “You are good at science; you are good at math,” my high school guidance counselor told me. “Go and become an engineer; we can never have enough engineers to catch up to the Russians.” I did so, always suspecting that, on the other side of the Iron Curtain, there lived my anonymous Russian counterpart (one who had, for decades, been keeping me employed, and vice-versa). I hoped that some day, when our countries decided to wage peace, we might have the opportunity to meet.

That opportunity finally presented itself in Germany, following the fall of the Berlin Wall. Sasha Zaitsev became my newfound brother, and related a similar tale. “You are good at science; you are good at math,” his high school guidance counselor had told him. “Go and become an engineer; we can never have enough engineers to keep ahead of the Americans.” After that first meeting, we became lifelong friends, even sharing hotel rooms while attending various scientific conferences all over the world. So, I now mourn my brother's loss.

The photo below shows us together at the European Radio Astronomy Club's Mannheim Radio Observatory in 2004.

sasha zaitsev with h paul shuch

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