Schafer Corporation, a scientific, engineering and operational support organization providing high-end technical solutions to mission critical challenges, appoints Franklin L. Van Rensselaer, Jr. Senior Vice President and General Manager of Schafer’s Aerospace Sector. Mr. Van Rensselaer will also lead Schafer’s strategic business development initiatives.
Mr. Van Rensselaer has had a long career in the aerospace industry that includes both public and private experience. He was involved with NASA programs working for or with NASA for the majority of his career and his experience runs the gamut from concept through actual flight. He has extensive experience with startup companies, as well as large aerospace companies.
In his last private corporation position, he was Vice President of the NASA business for the Government Communications Systems Division of Harris Corporation in Melbourne, Florida, which included developing over $300 million of new business. He reported to the President of the Division. Prior to that, Mr. Van Rensselaer was Vice President and Site Executive for Raytheon’s St. Petersburg, Florida, facility and also Director of Space Programs within Network Centric Systems Division, reporting to the President of the Division. In that capacity, he was responsible for over 1,000 individuals, mostly engineers, and also for developing the NASA business. Before joining Raytheon, he was Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Space Data International, an early stage company that developed a high-speed transmission system for transmitting very large exploration date files from ships far out in the oceans over the NASA TDRS satellites and down to processing centers in Houston. Prior to forming his own company, Mr. Van Rensselaer was Corporate Vice President of Business Development for Fairchild Space and Defense. His responsibilities included satellites, Hubble engineering support, and other space related hardware. Prior to that, Mr. Van Rensselaer served as NASA Space Systems Director for Martin Marietta responsible for all of the NASA business, including large satellites, experiments, propulsion systems, and manned systems for the Space Shuttle. He also was Vice President of the Commercial Titan venture. Before joining Martin Marietta, he was a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Vice President–Programs for Orbital Sciences Corporation during the early stages of the company’s development. He was instrumental in helping raise $50 million in the capital market, setting up the first Program office, negotiating a $45 million contract, and managing Orbital’s first program, the Transfer Orbit Stage.
Before moving into the private sector, Mr. Van Rensselaer held various management positions with NASA during a 20-year period. He began his career with NASA right out of college at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) as a propulsion engineer working with the Von Braun team developing the Saturn V moon rocket. He then moved to Johnson Space Center and led a team of flight controllers responsible for the Saturn V real time flight operations reporting to the Flight Director in the Mission Control Center. He and his flight control team received numerous awards for real time actions during the missions for Apollo, Skylab, and Apollo/Soyuz Test Program. Frank then returned to MSFC and was Deputy Director for the Inertial Upper Stage joint program with the Air Force as well as the Operations Director for the Space Lab, a joint NASA and European Space Agency program. He culminated his NASA career at NASA Headquarters as Director of the Expendable Equipment Division, responsible for the Space Shuttle External Tank, Solid Rocket Booster, and all Shuttle propulsion stages flying out of the Shuttle cargo bay. He was a charter member of Senior Executive Service.
Frank earned an M.S. in Management from MIT as a NASA sponsored Sloan Fellow; a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, and a B.S. in Management Engineering, both from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.