Boeing Say N(ot)yet on Sea Launch Sale

Zenit lifts off with communications satellite. (Credit: Sea Launch)
Zenit lifts off with communications satellite. (Credit: Sea Launch)

The news that Roscosmos has found a buyer for  Sea Launch has sparked more litigation over the troubled launch provider.

Boeing has filed suit to block the sale until it can collect a court judgment of $298 million from its Russian and Ukrainian partners. Boeing won a court case in September that involves payments that RSC Energia and Yuzhnoye owe from previous business dealings.

In a motion for a preliminary injunction filed with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California April 2, Boeing argued that a sale of Sea Launch could hinder its ability to collect on a summary judgment issued last year against Energia of at least $300 million.

“If Energia succeeds in selling these assets and moving all of the proceeds thereof to Russia, without paying the hundreds of millions of dollars that it owes, it would unquestionably complicate Boeing’s collection efforts,” the company’s lawyers stated in the court filing….

Boeing requested that, if the sale of Sea Launch does go forward, the court should direct that the proceeds go into a U.S.-based escrow account so that they can be used to pay Boeing’s judgment.
Sea Launch’s main assets — a sea-going launch platform and assembly and command ship (ACS) – are docked in Long Beach, Calif.

Boeing, Energia, Yuzhnoye and Norway’s Kvaerner Moss Technology created Sea Launch in 1995 to serve the communications satellite partner. The company launches Zenit boosters produced in Ukraine from an ocean-going platform towed to the equator.

Sea Launch has suffered launch failures and financial setbacks, eventually entering bankruptcy. It is now 95 percent owned by a subsidiary of RSC Energia, which in turn is controlled by the government-run Roscosmos. The remaining five percent is split between Boeing and Kvaerner , which is now known as Aker Maritime Finance AS.

Roscosmos recently announced it had found a buyer for Sea Launch. However, officials said they could not yet divulge the identity of the buyer.