Sea Launch Back in Business With Majority Russian Owner

Sea Launch – which declared bankruptcy last year – is back in business.

As expected, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware today approved a reorganization plan in which Russia’s Energia RSC will take 95 percent ownership of the company, which launches Zenit rockets from both land and an off-shore platform.

The company said in a press release:

Court confirmation of the Plan is the culmination of a 13-month restructuring process that was initiated when Sea Launch filed for Chapter 11 protection on June 22, 2009. The Plan will become effective following completion of U.S. regulatory review.

“Court confirmation of our Plan of Reorganization is the next step in the reorganization process for Sea Launch and brings us closer to re-entering the market as a strong and competitive commercial launch service provider,” said Kjell Karlsen, president and general manager of Sea Launch. “We will continue toward emergence with a solid financial structure and a healthy manifest of future launches.”

The re-emergence of Sea Launch provides more competition for satellite providers. It could also boost the fortunes of Excalibur Almaz, which has been considering using Zenit boosters for its private space station. The Isle of Man-based company had provided funding to keep Sea Launch operating during an earlier phase of the bankruptcy.

Sea Launch’s ocean platform is based out of Long Beach, Calif., while its Land Launch operations are located at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Company officials have spoken of seeking U.S. government launches; however, Energia’s 95 percent share would pose an obstacle to that goal.

Sea Launch launched its first satellite in 1999. It was previously owned by a consortium of Russian, American, Ukrainian and Norwegian companies.