Richard L. Fahrner

Senior Vice President
Orbital Science Corporation
MSAE 1961

“The engineering education I received at Purdue provided the expertise needed to analyze and solve challenging aerospace problems. Although modern computers and analysis tools help to quickly solve complex problems, an excellence education remains most important since projects are smaller, placing more responsibility on the individual engineer while requiring teamwork to achieve a common project goal. The ability to quickly analyze a problem on the ‘back of an envelope’ will always remain a requirement to judge the accuracy of computer-generated information.”

Richard Fahrner has more than 40 years of experience in aerospace with 30 years of experience in ballistics missile defense programs. Fahrner joined Orbital Sciences Corporation in 1996 and is now senior vice president.

Fahrner began his career at Douglas Aircraft as a control system designer and three-dimensional dynamic stability expert. Over the next 14 years, he moved up to the manager of the Flight Mechanics Branch for Spartan and Advanced Interceptors. Fahrner then accepted a position in McDonnell Douglas as manager of systems engineering for the Undersea Systems area. His experience in high-speed interceptors was applied to high performance advanced lightweight torpedoes and rocket propelled underwater mines. He later was brought to McDonnell Douglas’ ballistic missile defense efforts as chief engineer, Advanced Interceptors. From there he rose through the ranks managing multiple programs and studies for McDonnell Douglas.

At both McDonnell Douglas and Orbital Sciences, Fahrner served on corporate special studies and flight anomaly investigations as well as other corporate-wide assignments. During his career he led several specialty technology efforts, including the development of the gyroscope model for Sperry’s fluid sphere gyroscope and the hypervelocity impact debris model for the Delta 183 mission. Fahrner also holds two patents.

He received his master’s in aeronautical engineering in 1961 from Purdue.