Excalibur Almaz Part of Investment Group Bailing Out Sea Launch

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Sea Launch Investor Group Includes Familiar Names
Space News

The unidentified investor group providing initial financing to Sea Launch Co., the commercial launch provider that is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, includes an Isle of Man-based company created in 2005 to build a space tourism business using existing Russian hardware, according to industry officials.

The company, Excalibur Almaz Ltd., includes on its board several people who are well-known in the U.S. space industry, according to the company’s 2009 registration statement with the Isle of Man government. The company’s directors, according to the statement, include George W.S. Abbey, former director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center; J. Buckner Hightower, described in company documents as chief fundraiser; Arthur McKee Dula, who has a long history of dealing with Russian space ventures; and Leroy Chiao, a former NASA astronaut….

Excalibur Almaz was created in 2005 to refurbish Russia’s Almaz spacecraft and transform it into a capsule for week-long trips to space by paying customers. The company said it owns “several Almaz spacecraft, including reusable re-entry vehicles and space stations.”

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