Dr. Charles S. Sheldon II, 64, a former chief of the science policy research division of the Congressional Research Service and an authority on the Soviet space program, died of cancer Friday at Arlington Hospital.

Dr. Sheldon, who was born in Shanghai, China, earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Washington in Seattle. He taught there from 1937 to 1955. In 1942, he took a doctorate in economics at Harvard University.

During World War II, Dr. Sheldon served in the Navy. He was a civilian attached to the staff of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Japan in 1948 and 1949. During the Korean conflict, he was recalled to active duty as an officer in the Naval Reserves and eventually retired with the rank of captain after 26 years of service.

In 1955, Dr. Sheldon moved to the Washington area and began his career with the Congressional Research Service, a part of the Library of Congress. Over the years, he wrote five books and more than 50 articles, many of them on the U.S. and Soviet space programs.

Other work he did at the CRS included assignments to the staffs of various congressional committees. From 1961 to 1966, he was a senior staff member of the President's Space Council.

Dr. Sheldon also was the staff director of the House Select Committee on Committees and the director of research for the Special Study on Economic Change of the Joint Economic Committee. He remained with the Congressional Research Service until his death.

Dr. Sheldon, who lived in Arlington, held the title of distinguished lecturer at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He was a fellow of the American Astronautical Society and the British Interplanetary Society.

Survivors include his wife, Margaret Jean Sheldon of Arlington; three daughters, Margaret S. Mallino of University Park, Pamela S. Morris of Arlington and Nancy S. Cremer of Philadelphia; a brother, Jerome F., of Seaside, Ore.; a sister, Janice S. Baumback of Iowa City, Iowa, and seven grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Oncology Unit, Arlington Hospital, Arlington, Va.