Hansen, son of a single mother confectionary saleswoman, graduated in electrical engineering from the University Of Illinois' Institute of Technology in1948. After post-graduate engineering and management work at Illinois and UCLA he joined Douglas Aircraft, eventually becoming Chief of Design. In 1955 Douglas won the crash program to create the Thor intermediate range ballistic missile, which went from contract award to first launch in less than a year. In 1960 Hansen accepted a position at Convair Astronautics as Chief of Design Engineering. Here his immediate task was to serve as project director for the Centaur, the first hydrogen-fueled rocket stage, designed to mate with the Atlas booster. When he took over, the project was in disarray and NASA was about to cancel General Dynamics/Convair's contract. He got the program under control, and then managed completion of development of the Centaur and also served as Vice President for Launch Vehicles.
In 1968 Hansen was tapped by Roger Lewis, Chairman of the Board of General Dynamics, to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Research and Development. He labored at the Pentagon for five years, getting the troubled F-111 and C-5A aircraft programs under technical and cost control. He fought Nixon's decision to have the USAF abandon expendable launch vehicles and use NASA's space shuttle instead.
Hansen then returned to General Dynamics as Corporate Vice President and General Manager of Convair, replacing Jack Bowers, who went the other way through the revolving door to become an Assistant Secretary of the Navy. When he returned to Convair, it was at the end of the Apollo program, the ICBM programs, and the huge aerospace spending during the Viet Nam war. Profit was $1 million but staff was 12,000. Within a year, Hansen had laid off half the staff and profits were up to $20 million. Having accomplished his final 'fixit' job, he retired in 1978.
Birth Place: Bancroft, Idaho.