After 16 months working – barely – under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Sea Launch is now free to operate as a conventional business once again. A statement from the company says it plans to start launching satellites again next year.
“We are thrilled to have successfully emerged from Chapter 11 with a solid financial structure and a healthy manifest of future launches,” said Kjell Karlsen, Sea Launch president and general manager. “Completing this transaction will represent a significant accomplishment in the final steps toward re-entering the market as a strong and competitive commercial launch service provider.”
But it will be a very different business that opens its doors. Previously it was owned by a consortium led by aircraft giant Boeing. Now it is being led by Energia Overseas Ltd., a subsidiary the Russian aerospace giant Energia, which builds the Block DM upper stage for the Zenit 3SL and Proton rockets. Moreover, its first launches will not be from its floating launch platform in the Pacific but from the Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan.
This first flight will take place during Q1 of 2011, and will be for Intelsat which has been a strong supporter of Sea Launch throughout its bankruptcy process. Sea Launch will handle two satellites from its floating platform later next year.