Asif Siddiqi

Asif Siddiqi is Associate Professor of History at Fordham University and specializes in the history of science and technology and modern Russian history. His interests include the history of Soviet science and technology, popular science in Russian culture, the Soviet space program, and myth and memory in the Soviet context.

Dr. Siddiqi teaches lecture courses on modern European history, the social history of science and technology, the Cold War space race, and science in popular culture. He teaches graduate seminar courses on technology and imperialism, pedagogy (teaching history), and science and power in modern Europe.

His most recent book is on the origins and evolution of ideas about space exploration in Russian and Soviet culture. The book, entitled The Red Rockets’ Glare: Spaceflight and the Soviet Imagination, 1857-1957 (Cambridge University Press, 2010), is based on extensive archival research in Russia, and is the first academic work on the birth of Sputnik.

His first book was the two-volume Sputnik and the Soviet Space Challenge and The Soviet Space Race with Apollo both published simultaneously by the University Press of Florida in 2003. These volumes, dealing primarily with events during the Cold War, were the first histories of the Soviet space program based on Russian sources available after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Originally published as a single volume, Challenge to Apollo: The Soviet Union and the Space Race, 1945-1974 by the NASA History Office, the book has received numerous national awards. In their December 30, 2006 issue, the Wall Street Journal named it one of the five best books ever published on space exploration.

He is currently working simultaneously on two book projects. The first is a project on the relationship between science and technology and repression in the Soviet context. The manuscript focuses on the critical role of repressive measures in shaping the emergence of Soviet scientific institutions, practices, and cultures in the 1920s and 1930s. The book focuses on such phenomenon as the prison science system (sharashki), the Great Terror, local-foreign interactions, and the Gulag economy, and suggests that even as the Bol’sheviks subjected scientists and engineers to extreme coercion, many were themselves imbricated in the creation of instruments of Stalinist repression.

He is also working on a new project on the history of secrecy and censorship in the Soviet Union.

Dr. Siddiqi is also serving as Series Editor of the four-volume English language memoirs of a Russian rocket engineer, Boris Chertok. These volumes are being published under the general title Rockets and People. So far, three volumes of Rockets and People have been published, Vol. I (NASA History Division, 2005), Vol. II: Creating a Rocket Industry (NASA History Division, 2006), and Vol. III: Hot Days of the Cold War (NASA History Division, 2009)

He has published widely on the history of technology and modern Russian history in the following journals: Technology and Culture, Osiris, History and Technology, Europe-Asia Studies, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, Acta Astronautica, and Voprosy istorii estestvoznaniia i tekhniki.

4 replies on “Asif Siddiqi”

Dear Dr. Asif Siddiqi

I’ve read Volumes I, II, and part of III of Boris Chertok’s People and Rockets. Do you have any idea when Volume IV will be available on the NASA History website?


Walter L. Wajda

I’ve also read all of these as Walter has and am keen to read volume 4… Any word yet on it’s release?

Kind regards,


Thanks for your interest in the books. Volume 4 is actually out now and available from the NASA History Office.

Dear Dr. Asif Siddiqi,

I have read your articles with keen interest and noted that you are speaking with regards to the Cosmonauts exhibition in the London Science Museum. I myself am conducting some research on how Soviet space exploration and achievements are represented in the post-Soviet era (at the University of East Anglia). Given that you will be visiting the exhibition, I wondered whether I could possibly contact you about your thoughts on how the exhibition represented the Soviet achievements in this field via a few prepared questions (either by email/phone). I appreciate you are very busy, so do feel like you can politely decline, but in any case, I was interested in your views. I am in London myself visiting the exhibition tomorrow and hope to use the exhibition as part of my research.

Yours sincerely,
Ryan Hale

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