ATL Partners forms new holding company focused on space and air sensors

WASHINGTON — ATL Partners, a private equity firm, announced March 20 it has formed a new holding company called LightRidge Solutions to oversee a portfolio of space and airborne sensors businesses.

LightRidge will absorb space sensor provider Geost Inc. — which ATL Partners acquired in 2021 — and Ophir Corp., a company that develops airborne laser radar technology and was acquired by ATL Partners in November 2022.

The chief executive of LightRidge is Bill Gattle, a veteran space industry executive and former president of L3Harris’ space division. 

Portfolio of air and space sensors

Geost, based in Tucson, Arizona, develops space situational awareness payloads for DoD and U.S. intelligence agencies. The company in 2021 won two U.S. Space Force contracts worth $38 million to develop an optical sensor payload for satellites in geostationary orbit. 

Ophir Corp., based in Littleton Colorado, uses laser radar (known as lidar) for airborne and ground-based sensors used by the U.S. military and commercial businesses.

“This portfolio is fundamentally a domain awareness protection business,” said Gattle.

He said the combination of these businesses under LightRidge brings “scale, operating synergies and access to capital as we realize a vision of providing affordable yet small, powerful and increasingly autonomous sensors, space electronics, and intelligence and surveillance solutions.”

The creation of LightRidge, he said, is an indicator of private equity’s interest in space and defense.

ATL Partners, based in New York City, has sought small to medium sized businesses with mature technologies that can be applied to national security missions and also adapted for commercial needs, Gattle said.

The power competition with China and DoD’s growing appetite for space technologies, he added, are driving demand for sensors and payloads that can be rapidly integrated and deployed. 

Strategic acquisitions

When ATL Partners acquired Geost, “we started a process of building an enterprise that provides mission critical domain protection and awareness solutions,” said Mike Kramer, LightRidge Solutions chairman and partner at ATL.

 “We are thrilled to work closely with Bill Gattle and his talented management team as we drive growth in the portfolio and look for highly strategic acquisitions,” said Kramer.