The private equity firm ATL Partners on Monday said it has stood up LightRidge Solutions, which was created through the acquisition of two companies, GEOST, LLC in 2021 and Ophir Corp. in late 2022.
LightRidge is based in Tucson, Ariz., has about 255 employees and is currently focused on sensors for space and airborne platforms.
Bill Gattle, who previously was president of the space and intelligence business at L3Harris Technologies [LHX], was named CEO of LightRidge in late 2022 . He spent 36 years with L3Harris and was president of the space and intelligence business for nine years.
Gattle’s initial focus is on “scalability” of the company as it builds out its test and assembly infrastructure in preparation for ramping production on several systems during the next two years, Joshua Hartman, chief strategy and growth officer for LightRidge and president of GEOST, told Defense Daily.
“We’ll have to build out production facilities and Bill, with his background, is really a huge asset in helping us plan that and make sure we’ve got the rigor to be successful for our customers,” Hartman said.
GEOST, which was founded in 2004, develops and produces small, low-cost satellite payloads for laser communications, space domain awareness, missile warning, space traffic management, and electro-optic and infrared sensors for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
The company’s payloads are for satellite systems in low-Earth orbit all the way to cislunar orbit, Hartman said. LightRidge’s GEOST division will provide the primary payload for Quantum Space who will be selling commercial data as a service using spacecraft it plans to first launch in 2024 and operate in cislunar space, he said.
GEOST’s payloads are primarily on U.S. government, Space Force and intelligence community platforms, Hartman said.
GEOST is “building things at a much lower size and cost point that not only is it interesting, and valuable to the Department of Defense and the intelligence community but it’s also interesting to the commercial community because it can now close the business case,” he said.
Ophir, which is located near Denver and makes an advanced LIDAR system used on airborne platforms and low-observable aircraft, brought 85 employees with it. The company’s sensors are on the Air Force B-2 stealth bomber and intelligence community platforms, Hartman said.
The company’s LIDAR is also being examined for commercial aircraft use to help avoid objects while taxiing, he said.
ATL Partners formed LightRidge as a platform company that will be making additional acquisitions in the area of smart sensors, Hartman said. Smart sensors, he said, create more autonomy on a particular platform “so that that the whole collection process can be done at the speed of the network with intelligence and without a human in the loop.”
The company is lining up another acquisition it expects to announce within two months, he said.