Dan Ceperley, LeoLabs co-founder and CEO, and Tony Frazier, former Maxar Technologies vice president, pictured at LeoLabs Costa Rica Space Radar. Frazier will become LeoLabs CEO on March 1. Credit: LeoLabs

SAN FRANCISCO – Tony Frazier, who led Maxar Technologies’ Earth Intelligence business, takes the helm March 1 of space mapping firm LeoLabs.

Meanwhile, Dan Ceperley, who co-founded LeoLabs in 2016, will become chief operations officer for the 100-person company.

LeoLabs is at an inflection point in its growth trajectory, Frazier told SpaceNews.

In addition to participating in an Office of Space Commerce program that could lead to the incorporation of commercial data into its space traffic coordination system, LeoLabs is developing a software platform for tracking objects in space with U.S. defense contractor Science Applications International Corp. Through additional contracts, LeoLabs is working with U.S. allies and partners.

“Those are all areas where we see tremendous growth potential,” Frazier said. As a result, LeoLabs is focused on “balancing the innovative capability as the first operator able to monitor activity across low-Earth orbit at scale” with growing its existing contracts “into substantial programs of record.”

Back to Engineering

Ceperley, who earned a PhD in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley, is looking forward to returning to a more technical role.

“I’m going to be leading the engineering side of the company: operating and delivering new technical capabilities that support the growth of the company,” Ceperley said.

Starting LeoLabs and leading the company since 2016 has been “a fabulous ride,” Ceperley said. “But as the company grew, the breadth of everything I had to do as CEO expanded. And so more of my time has been focused on go-to-market, which takes me away from engineering.”

Frazier’s Experience

Ceperley said it’s important for LeoLabs to bring in someone with Frazier’s experience.

“With Tony joining the team, we gain a huge additional amount of firepower in the C-suite that’s going to help us grow,” Ceperley said.  

Frazier spent more than 13 years at Maxar and its Earth imagery predecessors, GeoEye and Digital Globe. There, he helped build relationships with Google, Apple and other customers seeking location-based services. Frazier also focused extensively on the national security sector, building businesses based on Maxar’s data analytics.

When Maxar reorganized in 2023, Frazier was the vice president and general manager for the company’s 1,200-person, $1 billion public sector intelligence business.

“When I left Maxar, I was looking for another company that was bringing commercial innovation to the national security mission,” Frazier said. In LeoLabs, he saw a firm “with a technical lead, where I could bring my background in commercial space and national security to help the business scale.”

Similar Trajectories

“With his background in the satellite imaging world, Tony has seen a lot of the challenges and opportunities that are coming through the space domain awareness world,” Ceperley said. “It’s my opinion that this industry is going along a similar trajectory as it goes from a set of systems that were entirely government-owned to systems commercializing.”

New customers are emerging for space domain awareness data and traditional customers who have relied on government data “are figuring out how to add commercial into the mix,” Ceperley said. “With Tony’s experiences and connections, he’s going to accelerate not only LeoLabs, but the whole commercial space domain awareness industry and space traffic management industry.”

To date, LeoLabs has raised more than $120 million and established a global network of ground-based radars that track more than 20,000 objects in low-Earth orbit. With the assistance of artificial intelligence, LeoLabs detects on-orbit maneuvers, categorizes objects, characterizes unknown objects and analyzes patterns of behavior.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...