Sea Launch Exits Chapter 11

 
 PARIS — Sea Launch has successfully completed a 16-month Chapter 11 reorganization that will allow it to resume operations early next year free of debt.

The reorganization, approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., followed approval of the company’s acquisition by Energia Overseas Ltd. (EOL), a unit of Russian space contractor Energia, by the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment. Clearance of the acquisition, which cedes majority ownership to EOL, was obtained on Sept. 8.

Sea Launch entered Chapter 11 in June 2009. Its reorganization plan was filed in May 2010 and approved in July.

Under the new organization, a U.S. affiliate, Energia Logistics, will assume management of rocket assembly and integration operations at Sea Launch facilities in Long Beach, Calif. A Moscow-based affiliate will handle deliveries for all Russian and Ukrainian second-tier suppliers.

Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash, suppliers of the Zenit-3SL booster used by Sea Launch and Space International Services, which operates the Land Launch derivative, will continue to provide the first two stages and handle launch vehicle integration; Energia will provide the Block DM upper stage; and Boeing, the former main shareholder, will provide the fairing and launch support.

President/General Manager Kjell Karlsen and CFO Brett Carman will remain at the helm of the new entity, along with other senior members of the Sea Launch executive team.

Karlsen says the company will return to business with a “healthy manifest of future launches,” including some granted fully or partially in lieu of past claims. This includes missions for Intelsat, Echostar, Eutelsat and AsiaSat.

Return to flight of the Land Launch booster, carrying Intelsat 18, is planned in the first quarter of 2011. Sea Launch marine platform launches will resume in the third quarter.

By Michael A. Taverna

Sea Launch photo: Sea Launch

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