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Another global history of science: making space for India and China



Drawing from recent theoretical insights on the circulation of knowledge, this article, grounded in real-world examples, illustrates the importance of ‘the site’ as an analytical heuristic for revealing processes, movements and connections illegible within either nation-centred histories or comparative national studies. By investigating place instead of project, the study reframes the birth of modern rocket developments in both China and India as fundamentally intertwined within common global networks of science. I investigate four seemingly disconnected sites in the US, India, China and Ukraine, each separated by politics but connected and embedded in conduits that enabled the flow of expertise during (and in some cases despite) the Cold War. By doing so, it is possible to reconstruct an exemplar of a kind of global history of science, some of which takes place in China, some in India, and some elsewhere, but all of it connected. There are no discrete beginnings or endings here, merely points of intervention to take stock of processes in action. Each site produces objects and knowledge that contribute to our understanding of the other sites, furthering the overall narrative on Chinese and Indian efforts to formalize a ‘national’ space programme. The focus on these four sites reveals a global network of science in motion, linked by the common goals of building powerful rockets to explore space.

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1 Note the frequent invocation of the ‘invention’ of rockets in China as early as the tenth century, and likewise the references to astronomy as practised in ancient India. See ‘Rockets of ancient China’,  at; M.R. Ananthasayam, ‘A relook [sic] into the historical progress and philosophy of Indian space exploration’, paper presented at the 58th International Astronautical Congress, Hyderabad, India, 24–28 September 2007.

2 There are now quite a large number of English-language journalistic accounts of both the Chinese and Indian space programmes. See Brian Harvey, China's Space Program: From Conception to Manned Spaceflight, Chichester: Springer-Praxis, 2004; Harvey, China in Space: The Great Leap Forward, Chichester: Springer-Praxis, 2013; Roger Handberg and Zhen Li, Chinese Space Policy: A Study in Domestic and International Politics, Abingdon: Routledge, 2007; Gregory Kulacki and Jeffrey G. Lewis, A Place for One's Mat: China's Space Program, 1956–2003, Cambridge, MA: American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 2008; Gopal Raj, Reach for the Stars: The Evolution of India's Rocket Programme, New Delhi: Viking, 2000; P.V. Manoranjan Rao and P. Radhakrishnan, A Brief History of Rocketry in ISRO, Hyderabad: Universities Press, 2012.

3 See also my initial thoughts on this problematic: Siddiqi, Asif, ‘Competing technologies, national(ist) narratives, and universal claims: towards a global history of space exploration’, Technology and Culture (2010) 51, pp. 425443.

4 For a summary and critique of the recent literature in colonial and postcolonial science in the global context see Arnold, David, ‘Europe, technology, and colonialism in the 20th century’, History and Technology (2005) 21, pp. 85106. See also the special issue on Science and Global History, 1750–1850: Local Encounters and Global Circulation in Itinerario (March 2009) 33, especially the piece by Lissa Roberts (‘Situating science in global history’); Fan, Fa-ti, ‘The global turn in the history of science’, East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal (2012) 6, pp. 249258; Raj, Kapil, ‘Beyond postcolonialism … and postpositivism: circulation and the global history of science’, Isis (2013) 104, pp. 337347; and the special issue on Transnational History of Science in the BJHS (2012) 45, especially the introduction (pp. 319–336) by Simone Turchetti, Nestor Herran and Soraya Boudia (‘Introduction: have we ever been “transnational”? Towards a history of science across and beyond borders’).

5 For a historiographic survey of the problematic of the ‘nation’ in the history of science see Walker, Mark, ‘The “national” in international and transnational science’, BJHS (2012) 45, pp. 359376.

6 John Krige, ‘Embedding the national in the global: US–French relationships in space science and rocketry in the 1960s’, in Naomi Oreskes and John Krige (eds.), Science and Technology in the Global Cold War, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014, pp. 227–250.

7 See, for example, the essays in Gabrielle Hecht (ed.), Entangled Geographies: Empire and Technopolitics in the Global Cold War, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011; Oreskes and Krige, op. cit. (6).

8 Mike Davis, Planet of Slums, London: Verso, 2006.

9 Anderson, Warwick uses this quote in his ‘Introduction: postcolonial technoscience’, Social Studies of Science (2002) 32, pp. 643658, 644. See also Pigg, Stacy, ‘Inventing social categories through place: social representations and development in Nepal’, Comparative Studies in Society and History (1992) 34, pp. 491513.

10 Wang, Zuoyue, ‘Transnational science during the Cold War’, Isis (2010) 101, pp. 367377, 368.

11 This narrative is closely followed by a number of useful journalistic texts on the Indian space programme. See particularly Raj, op. cit. (2); Rao and Radhakrishnan, op. cit. (2).

12 This is the largely the focus of Ashok Maharaj, ‘Space for “development”: US–Indian space relations, 1955–1976’, PhD dissertation, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2011. See also Maharaj, ‘An overview of NASA–India relations’, in John Krige et al., NASA in the World: Fifty Years of International Collaboration in Space, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, pp. 211–234.

13 Jahnavi Phalkey, Atomic State: Big Science in Twentieth-Century India, Delhi: Permanent Black, 2013; Robert S. Anderson, Nucleus and Nation: Scientists, International Networks, and Power in India, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2010.

14 For Sarabhai see Padmanabh Joshi (ed.), Vikram Sarabhai: The Man and the Vision, Ahmedabad: Mapin Publishers, 1992. For a recent thoughtful examination of his life see Amrita Shah, Vikram Sarabhai: A Life, New Delhi: Penguin, 2007.

15 Anderson, op. cit. (13).

16 For Bhabha see Indira Chowdhury and Ananya Dasgupta, A Masterful Spirit: Homi J. Bhabha, 1909–1966, Delhi: Penguin Books, 2010; Chintamani Deshmukh, Homi Jehangir Bhabha, New Delhi: National Book Trust, 2003; G. Venkataraman, Bhabha and His Magnificent Obsessions, Hyderabad: Universities Press, 1994.

17 Michael E. Latham, Modernization as Ideology: American Social Science and ‘Nation Building’ in the Kennedy Era, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000; Nils Gilman, Mandarins of the Future: Modernization Theory in Cold War America, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004; David C. Engerman, ‘West meets East: the Center for International Studies and Indian economic development’, in David C. Engerman, Nils Gilman, Mark H. Haefele and Michael E. Latham (eds.), Staging Growth: Modernization, Development, and the Global Cold War, Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2003, pp. 199–223; Nicole Sackley, ‘Passage to modernity: American social scientists, India, and the pursuit of development, 1945–1961’, PhD dissertation, Princeton University, 2004.

18 H.J. Bhabha, ‘Science and the problems of development’, Science (4 February 1966) 151, pp. 541–548, 541.

19 Atomic Energy Commission, Government of India, Atomic Energy and Space Research: A Profile for the Decade 1970–80, Delhi: Atomic Energy Commission, 1970, pp. iv–v

20 Teasel Muir-Harmony, ‘Tracking diplomacy: the International Geophysical Year and American scientific and technical exchange with East Asia’, in Roger D. Launius, James Rodger Fleming and David H. DeVorkin (eds.), Globalizing Polar Science: Reconsidering the International Geophysical Years, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, pp. 279–305.

21 The cabinet approved the decision on 10 February, but the public announcement, by the Department of Atomic Energy, was made 16 February 1962. Amembassy New Delhi to State Department, 2 March 1962, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) II, RG 59, Central Decimal File, 1960–1963, Box 3112, Folder 991:801/3-861.

22 I provide a detailed history of INCOSPAR's formation in Asif A. Siddiqi, ‘Science, geography, and nation: the global creation of Thumba’, History and Technology, forthcoming.

23 Sarabhai visited Moscow to explore the possibility of cooperation in space activities in September 1962. See ‘Indian space scientist’, TASS English, Moscow, 3 September 1962, 1940 GMT; and 9 September 1962, 1100 GMT.

24 For secrecy and the Soviet space programme see Asif A. Siddiqi, ‘Cosmic contradictions: popular enthusiasm and secrecy in the Soviet space program’, in James T. Andrews and Asif A. Siddiqi (eds.), Into the Cosmos: Space Exploration and Soviet Culture, Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012, pp. 47–76.

25 John Krige, ‘Introduction and historical overview: NASA's international relations in space’, in Krige et al., op. cit. (12), pp. 3–21.

26 Memorandum of conversation – on May 18, 1961, 1 June 1961, NARA II, RG 59, Office of the Secretary, Special Asst. to Sec. of State for Atomic Energy Matters, 1948–1962, General Records Relating to Atomic Energy Matters, 1948–1962, Box 333, Folder 14A-Cooperative Space Programs 9. India, 1961–62.

27 Explorer XI, the world's first gamma-ray astronomy satellite, was launched into orbit on 27 April 1961.

28 ‘Telemetry station for Ahmedabad, India’, 6 September 1961, NARA II, RG 59, Office of the Secretary, Special Asst. to Sec. of State for Atomic Energy Matters, 1948–1962, General Records Relating to Atomic Energy Matters, 1948–1962, Box 333, Folder 14A – Cooperative Space Program 9. India, 1961–62. The estimated total cost was $92,718 plus $10,000 for shipping.

29 Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Atomic Energy and the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 11 October 1962, NARA II, RG 59, Bureau of International Scientific and Technological Affairs, Central Files, 1964–1966, Box 1, Folder Space & Astronautics SP 1 Gen. Policy. Plans. Coordination, 1964.

30 For the long and torturous history of the ‘creation’ of Thumba see Siddiqi, op. cit. (22).

31 ‘First rocket launched at Thumba International Range’, NASA News Release 63-105, 22 November 1963, NASA History Division, Historical Reference Collection, International Programs, India–U.S. Folder. For many vivid recollections of the day see 20 Years of Rocketry in Thumba, 1963–1983, Trivandrum: Central Documentation Division, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, 1983, pp. 71–83.

32 See the list of senior engineers of INCOSPAR (and later the Indian Space Research Organisation, ISRO) in Maharaj, ‘Space for “development”’, op. cit. (12), p. 208.

33 A chapter in Yash Pal's biography gives a flavour of Indian networks in and around MIT. See Biman Basu, Yash Pal: A Life in Science, Noida: Vigyan Prasar, 2006, pp. 31–44.

34 Bassett, Ross, ‘MIT-trained swadeshis: MIT and Indian nationalism, 1880–1947’, Osiris (2009) 24, pp. 212230, 229–230.

35 Leslie, Stuart and Kargon, Robert, ‘Exporting MIT: science, technology, and nation-building in India and Iran’, Osiris (2006) 21, pp. 110130; Kim Patrick Sebaly, ‘The assistance of four nations in the establishment of the Indian Institutes of Technology, 1945–1970’, PhD dissertation, University of Michigan, 1972.

36 ‘Proposed Wiesner visit to New Delhi’, 31 December 1964, NARA II, RG 59, Bureau of International Scientific and Technological Affairs, Central Files, 1964–1966, IANEC 1962–1963 to Relationships – N A S 1962–65, Box 6, Folder Relationships – NASA 1962–65.

37 The first discussion at the State Department level took place on 19 May 1966. See ‘Proposal for an experimental satellite project involving direct broadcast of educational TV programs for India’, 15 October 1966, NARA II, RG 59, Bureau of International Scientific and Technological Affairs, Miscellaneous Files, 1961–66, A.E. Pardee-Memos to Hornig's Visit to Pakistan, Box 2, Folder Visits of Sarabhai (10/12–27/66) and Sethna (10/3–20/66).

38 Daniel Lerner, The Passing of Traditional Society: Modernizing the Middle East, New York: Free Press, 1958.

39 Daniel Lerner and Lyle M. Nelson, eds., Communication Research: A Half-Century Appraisal, Hawaii, East West Centre, 1977, p. 162.

40 This section of the paper is summarized from Siddiqi, Asif, ‘Making space for the nation: satellite television, Indian scientific elites, and the Cold War’, Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East (2015) 35, pp. 3549.

41 For official institutional histories see Alan A. Gromestein (ed.), MIT Lincoln Laboratory: Technology in Support of National Security, 1951–2011, Lexington, MA: MIT Lincoln Laboratory, 2011; Eva C. Freeman (ed.), MIT Lincoln Laboratory: Technology in the National Interest, Lexington, MA: MIT Lincoln Laboratory, 1995.

42 These were the eight satellites launched between 1965 and 1976 in the Lincoln Experimental Satellite (LES) series.

43 Seamans to Sarabhai, 4 November 1969, MIT/Lincoln Lab Archives.

44 Sarabhai to Wiesner, 6 January 1970, MIT/Lincoln Lab Archives.

45 Nims to Johnson, 30 July 1970, MIT/Lincoln Lab Archives.

46 MIT-ISRO, INSAT Satellite Systems Study: Volume I (INSAT Summary Report, March 1, 1971), Volume II (INSAT Satellite Design Study, March 1, 1971), and Volume III (INSAT Program Cost Analysis, December 7, 1970), MIT/Lincoln Lab Archives.

47 For more on this tortured stage see Mody, Bella, ‘Contextual analysis of the adoption of a communications technology: the case of satellites in India’, Telematics and Informatics (1987) 4, pp. 151158; Singh, Jai P. and Narayan, K., ‘Broadcasting-satellite service in India’, IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications (1985) 3, pp. 233245; Raman Srinivasan, ‘No free launch: designing the Indian satellite’, in Andrew J. Butrica Jr (ed.), Beyond the Ionosphere: The Development of Satellite Communications, Washington, DC: NASA, 1997, pp. 215–226.

48 Interview with the author, Y.S. Rajan, Bangalore, 5 August 2011.

49 For critical histories of MIT see David Kaiser (ed.), Becoming MIT: Moments of Decision, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010; Stuart Leslie, The Cold War and American Science: The Military–Industrial–Academic Complex at MIT and Stanford, New York: Columbia University Press, 1993. For Western academic institutions embedded in international networks see Hans de Wit, Internationalization of Higher Education in the United States of America and Europe: A Historical, Comparative, and Conceptual Analysis, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002. For Stanford see Rebecca S. Lowen, Creating the Cold War University: The Transformation of Stanford, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.

50 Sarah Yu, ‘MIT's Chinese contingent,’ Scope, at, accessed 18 January 2016.

51 These numbers are debatable and there has been no systematic study of Chinese student populations. The New York Times quoted a figure of 22,000 Chinese students up to 1954. See ‘Centennial for Chinese students’, New York Times, 31 October 1954. See also Stacey Bieler, ‘Patriots’ or ‘Traitors’? A History of American-Educated Chinese Students, Armonk: M.E. Sharpe, 2004; Ting Ni, ‘Cultural journey: experiences of Chinese students of the 1930s and the 1940s’, PhD dissertation, Indiana University, 1996; Y.S. Wang, Chinese Intellectuals and the West, 1872–1949, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1966.

52 Wang, op. cit. (10), p. 371.

53 Zuoyue Wang, ‘Engineering a new space: Chinese American scientists and engineers in aerospace in Southern California’, in Peter Westwick (ed.), Blue Sky Metropolis: A Century of Aerospace in Southern California, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012, pp. 197–213.

54 Wang, op. cit. (10), p. 373.

55 Cao, Cong, ‘Research note: social origins of the Chinese scientific elite’, China Quarterly (1999) 160, pp. 9921018.

56 Wang, op. cit. (10), p. 373.

57 Clayton R. Koppes, JPL and the American Space Program: A History of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982.

58 Biographical details are from Iris Chang, Thread of the Silkworm, New York: Basic Books, 1995.

59 Titled ‘A Proposal to Establish a Defense Aviation Industry in China,’ the proposal was submitted to the Central Committee on 17 February 1956. See Li Chenchzhi (Li Chengzhi), Razvitie kitaiskikh kosmicheskikh tekhnologii (The Development of Chinese Space Technology), St Petersburg, Nestor-Istoriia, 2013, p. 14. This is an abridged Russian-language version of the most substantive historical work published in China on the early history of the Chinese missile and space programmes: Chengzhi Li, Zhongguo hangtian jishu fazhan shi gao (A Draft History of Space Technology in China), 3 vols., Jinan: Shandong Education Press, 2006. For a review see Isis (2010) 101, pp. 677678.

60 The decision to form the committee was taken on 14 March but it came into operation only on 13 April. Later, in October 1958, the committee was merged with the Fifth Bureau of the Ministry of Defense into the Commission of Science and Technology for National Defense (CSTND). In 1982, CSTND was expanded into the Commission of Science, Technology, and Industry for National Defense (COSTIND), which in 1998 was restructured as the General Armaments Department of the Ministry of Defense. In its various forms, COSTIND was China's principal governmental body in charge of the managing its missile and space programmes.

61 For English-language accounts of this early period see John Wilson Lewis and Xue Litai, China's Strategic Seapower: The Politics of Force Modernization in the Nuclear Age, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994, pp. 130–133; Mark A. Stokes, ‘The People's Liberation Army and China's space and missile development: lessons from the past and prospects for the future’, in Laurie Burkitt, Andrew Scobell and Larry M. Wortzell (eds.), The Lessons of History: The Chinese People's Liberation Army at 75, Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, 2003, pp. 195–201, 203–204; Yanping Chen, ‘China's space activities, policy and organization, 1956–1986’, PhD dissertation, George Washington University, 1999, pp. 61–81; Zhihua Shen and Yafeng Xia, ‘Between aid and restriction: changing Soviet policies toward China's nuclear weapons program: 1954–1960’, Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, Working Paper #2, May 2012, at, accessed 4 January 2016.

62 The institutional framework for missile development in China was initially operated through two entities, the Fifth Bureau (to manage development), opened on 6 August 1956, and the Fifth Academy (to carry out research and development), opened on 8 October 1956. The two merged into the single Fifth Academy, after an order issued on 1 March 1957. Later, in May 1958, a new Fifth Department was organized to supervise the Fifth Academy. This Fifth Department was merged into the larger CSTND in April 1959, thus bringing the missile programme under the control of CSTND. For details see Li Chenchzhi, op. cit. (61), p. 16; Lewis and Xue Litai, op. cit. (63), p. 256. In terms of their specific positions, Zhong and Qian were respectively director and deputy director at the Fifth Bureau, but Qian also served as director of the Fifth Academy until 1960, when he evidently voluntarily took the deputy director position in order to concentrate more on technical matters.

63 Chen, op. cit. (63), p. 73.

64 For general overviews see Thomas P. Bernstein and Hua-yu Li (eds.), China Learns from the Soviet Union, 1949–Present, Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2010; Odd Arne Westad (ed.), Brothers in Arms: The Rise and Fall of the Sino-Soviet Alliance, 1945–1963, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998; T.G. Zazerskaia, Sovetskie spetsialisty i formirovanie voenno-promyshlennogo kompleksa kitaia, 1949–1960 gody (Soviet Specialists and the Formation of China's Military–Industrial Complex, 1949–1960), St Petersburg: NIIKh SpbGU, 2000; E.S. Levina, ‘Istoriia i problemy sovetsko-kitaiskogo sotrudnichestva v 1950-kh – nachale 1960-kh gg.: (po materialam rossiiskikh arkhivov)’ (History and problems of Soviet–Chinese cooperation in the 1950s–early 1960s: (based on materials from Russian archives)) in Rossiisko-kitaiskie nauchnye sviazi: problemy stanovleniia i razvitiia (Russian–Chinese Scientific Communications: Problems of Formation and Development), St Petersburg, 2005, pp. 92–116.

65 Zhang, Baichun, Zhang, Jiuchun and Yao, Fang, ‘Technology transfer from the Soviet Union to the People's Republic of China, 1949–1966’, Comparative Technology Transfer and Society (2006) 4, pp. 105171, 115.

66 Zhang, Zhang and Yao, op. cit. (67), p. 122.

67 For a history see Yao, Shuping, ‘Chinese intellectuals and science: a history of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)’, Science in Context 3 (1989) 3, pp. 447473.

68 Zhang, Zhang and Yao, op. cit. (67), p. 122.

69 A two-volume collection of primary documents published by the Federal Archive Agency in Russia details many of these adopted practices. See V.S. Miasnikov (ed.), Kitaiskaia noradnaia respublika v 1950-e gody: sbornik dokumentov (The People's Republic of China in the 1950s: A Collection of Documents), 2 vols., Moscow: Pamiatniki istoricheskoi mysli, 2010. The first volume compiles the contemporaneous impressions of Soviet and Chinese actors involved in the decade-long exchange. The second compiles government documents from the Soviet side.

70 A.B. Shirikorad, Rossiia i kitai: konfliktu i sotrudnichestkvo (Russia and China: Conflict and Cooperation), Moscow: Veche, 2004, p. 323.

71 Yangqiong, Liu and Jifeng, Liu, ‘Analysis of Soviet technology transfer in the development of China's nuclear weapons’, Comparative Technology Transfer and Society (2009) 7, pp. 66110; Gobarev, Viktor M., ‘Soviet policy toward China: developing nuclear weapons: 1949–1969’, Journal of Slavic Military Studies (1999) 4, pp. 153; Zhihua Shen and Yafeng Xia, op. cit. (63).

72 See Xiaobing Li, A History of the Modern Chinese Army, Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, p. 153.

73 Bulganin's position meant that he was the nominal head of the Soviet government. Li was also chairman of the State Planning Commission, the governmental body in charge of economic planning at the state level.

74 Li Chenchzhi, op. cit. (61), p. 37.

75 Asif A. Siddiqi, Challenge to Apollo: The Soviet Union and the Space Race, 1945–1974, Washington, DC: NASA, 2000, pp. 41, 49, 53, 56, 57, 58.

76 The terms of exchange of the accord (signed on 30 March 1957) are noted in Zhihua Shen and Yafeng Xia, op. cit. (63), pp. 18–19.

77 Xiaobing Li, op. cit. (74), p. 153.

78 Li Chenchzhi, op. cit. (61), p. 37; Zhihua Shen and Yafeng Xia, op. cit. (63), pp. 24–25.

79 Vladimir Platonov, ‘SSSR-Kitai: raketno-iadernoi roman’ (‘USSR–China: Rocket–Nuclear Novel’), Zerkalo nedeli, 14 November 2003, available at, accessed 8 January 2016.

80 Zhihua Shen and Yafeng Xia, op. cit. (63), p. 25.

81 Asif A. Siddiqi, The Red Rockets’ Glare: Spaceflight and the Soviet Imagination, 1857–1957, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

82 The branches were technically created on 9 November 1957 but did not begin operating before 18 January 1958 when a discussion with Soviet advisers led to an operational plan of work that included four projects known as 8102, 8103, 8108 and 8109. See Li Chenchzhi, op. cit. (61), pp. 26, 37.

83 ‘Ob okazanii tekhnicheskoi pomoshchi kitaiskoi narodnoi respublik v sozdanii nauchno-issledovatelʹskikh institutov po raketnoi tekhnike’ (On providing technical aid to the People's Republic of China in the creation of scientific-research institutes for rocket technology), Russian State Archive of the Economy (RGAE), Fond (Collection) 4372, Opis′ (Inventory) 77, Delo (Folder) 335, listov (leaves) 129–131.

84 Others on the team included Andrei Zarubin, Igorʹ Larionov, Ivan Lyska, Evgenii Semenov, Ivan Kozlov, Viktor Borodin and Dmitrii Anvarov. For details see Ponomarev, A.V., ‘24 aprelia – 20 let so dnia puska pervoi kitaiskoi rakety-nositelia “velikii pokhod-1” so sputniom “kitai-1” (1970)’ (24 April – 20 years from the launch of the Chinese ‘Long March-1’ carrier-rocket with the ‘China-1’ satellite (1970)), Iz istorii aviatsii i kosmonavtiki (1990) 64, pp. 3033.

85 Chen, op. cit. (63), p. 70, p. 235.

86 ‘Pisʹmo predsedatelia gosudarstvennogo komiteta soveta ministrov sssr po aviatsionnoi tekhnike P.V. Dementʹeva v sovet ministrov sssr o postavkakh oborudovaniia v knr (December 11, 1959)’ (Letter from the Chairman of the State Committee of the Council of Ministers for Aviation Technology P.V. Dementʹev to the USSR Council of Ministers on delivery of equipment to the PRC) in Miasnikov, op. cit. (71), vol. 2, pp. 464–465.

87 These factors are described briefly in Zhihua Shen and Yafeng Xia, op. cit. (63).

88 Chen, op. cit. (63), p. 71.

89 Chen, op. cit. (63), pp. 72–73. Chen gives the date of this meeting as 14 August, while Li points to 9 October. They may have been separate meetings. Li quotes Nie with the following: ‘[we need] to make a breakthrough from copying to independent design quickly to develop and build our own high-technology system of missile technology – it will be difficult, but this is the honorable task facing us’. See Li Chenchzhi, op. cit. (61), p. 40.

90 Liang was named ‘chief designer’ of the 1059 on 31 March 1959. See Li Chenchzhi, op. cit. (61), p. 41.

91 Xiaobing Li, op. cit. (74), p. 170.

92 Sergei I. Zhuk, Rock and Roll in the Rocket City: The West, Identity, and Ideology in Soviet Dnepropetrovsk, 1960–1985, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010.

93 Vladimir Gubarev, Iuzhnyi start, Moscow: Nekos, 1998; V. Pappo-Korystin, V. Platonov and V. Pashchenko, Dneprovskii raketno-kosmicheskii tsentr (Dneprovskii Rocket-Space Center), Dnepropetrovsk: PO IuMZ/KBIu, 1994; S.N. Koniukhov (ed.), Prizvany vremenem: rakety i kosmicheskie apparaty konstruktorskogo biuro ‘Iuzhnoe’ (Called by Time: Rocket and Space Vehicles of the ‘Iuzhnoe’ Design Bureau), Dnepropetrovsk: Art-Press, 2004.

94 Orders for mass production of the R-1 and R-2 missiles at Dnepropetrovsk were signed on 1 June and 30 November 1951 respectively. See Pappo-Korystin, Platonov and Pashchenko, op. cit. (95).

95 S.N. Koniukhov (ed.), Rakety i kosmicheskie apparaty konstruktorskogo biuro ‘Iuzhnoe’ (Rocket and Space Vehicles of the ‘Iuzhnoye’ Design Bureau), Dnepropetrovsk: GKB ‘Iuzhnoe’ im. M.K. Iangelia, 2001, pp. 8–10.

96 The Interkosmos project resulted in the launch of more than two dozen satellites into orbit carrying experiments from all the Soviet bloc nations, including the German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania. In the late 1970s the programme was extended to include launches of guest cosmonauts into space from these and other socialist nations.

97 Sarabhai to the Soviet embassy in Delhi, 26 July 1971, Archive of the Russian Academy of Sciences (ARAN), Fond 1679, Opis′ 1, Delo 111, list 1.

98 Vladimir Gubarev, Aryabhata: The Space Temple, New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 1976, pp. 34–37. For Roerich in general see Alexander Andreyev, The Myth of the Masters Revived: The Occult Lives of Nikolai and Elena Roerich, Leiden: Brill, 2014.

99 ‘Spravka o provodimykh rabotakh v oblasti izucheniia kosmicheskogo prostranstva po programmam sotrudnichestva s sotsialisticheskim stranam, frantsiei, indie i SShA’ (Document on carrying out work in the area of the study of cosmic space within the program of cooperation with socialist nations, France, India, and the USA), July 1971, RGAE, Fond 8061, Opis′  9, Delo 2446, listov 15–24.

100 For the famous space plan of 1970 see Atomic Energy Commission, op. cit. (19).

101 Sarabhai originally proposed having the Soviets bring one of their satellite launch rockets to India to carry out the launch from Indian soil but the Soviets firmly rebuffed this idea (on grounds of secrecy) and proposed a less objectionable option, to bring the Indian satellite to the Soviet Union for launch. See V. Sarabhai to M.V. Keldysh, 7 August 1971, ARAN, Fond 1678, Opisʹ 1, Delo 111, listov 2–3.

102 Gary J. Bass, The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.

103 For Indian–Soviet relations during the Cold War see Mastny, Vojtech, ‘The Soviet Union's partnership with India’, Journal of Cold War Studies (2010) 12, pp. 5090; Iosifov, A.A., ‘Nachalo formirovanniia partnerskikh otnoshenii mezhdu Sovetskim Soiuzom i Indei v nachale 70-kh godov veka’ (The beginning of forming partner relations between the Soviet Union and India in the early 1970s), Izvestiia rossiiskogo gosudarstvennogo pedagogicheskogo universiteta im. A.I. Gertsena (2009) 118, pp. 4042; Santosh Mehrotra, India and the Soviet Union: Trade and Technology Transfer, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990; Engerman, David C., ‘Learning from the east: Soviet experts and India in the era of competitive coexistence’, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (2013) 33, pp. 227238.

104 For the ‘open’ document see ‘Spisok sovetskoi delegatsii’ (List of Soviet delegations), RGAE, Fond 1678, Opis′ 1, Delo 230, list 80. The actual titles of the Soviet participants are listed in a secret document withheld from the Indians. See RGAE, Fond 1678, Opis′ 1, Delo 232, list 11.

105 U.R. Rao to B.N. Petrov, 15 January 1973, RGAE, Fond 1678, Opis′ 1, Delo 232, list 6.

106 Soon after, Soviet and Indian authorities published several books on Aryabhata and Soviet–Indian space cooperation in general. See Gubarev, op. cit. (100); U.R. Rao and K. Kasturirangam, The Aryabhata Project, Bangalore: Indian Academy of Sciences, 1978.

107 Dhawan, S., ‘A glimpse of the Indian space programme’, Proceedings of the Indian Academy of Sciences (1978) 1C, pp. 126.

108 Although the phrase ‘great divergence’ has a more recent provenance (usually attributed to Samuel Huntington), the so-called counterfactual ‘Needham question’ had relevance for historians of science partly to explicate why ‘modern science’ emerged in Europe but not simultaneously in China. For a succinct summary of Needham's intervention into the debate on the emergence of modern science see Finlay, Robert, ‘China, the West, and world history in Joseph Needham's Science and Civilisation in China’, Journal of World History (2000) 11, pp. 265303.

109 For a useful summary see Bray, Francesca, ‘Only connect: comparative, national, and global history as frameworks for the history of science and technology in Asia’, East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal (2012) 6, pp. 233241.

110 Sivasundaram, Sujit, ‘Sciences and the global: on methods, questions and theory’, Isis (2010) 101, pp. 146158, 158.


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