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Sea Launch sold to Russian aviation company

Sea Launch, the floating converted oil rig that – when operational – launches rockets into orbit from the middle of the Pacific Ocean, is to be bought by S7 Group, described as Russia’s largest privately-owned aviation company.

An outline agreement was signed on Sept 278 at a Mexico aeronautical conference.  The deal is valued at about reported $150 million.

Sea Launch has already been through Chapter 11 restructuring (October 2010) and is currently owned in the main by RSC Energia, a Russian corporation, but uses Zenit rockets built by the Ukraine.

Sea Launch has been successful, and launched satellites belonging to DirecTV, EchoStar, Intelsat, SiriusXM and Eutelsat amongst others. But it has also suffered failures, and SES (with NSS-8) and Intelsat (I-27) have suffered losses.

The last satellite to be launched was for Eutelsat in May 2014. The new owners say they hope to return to flight in the next 18 months, and is planning for up to 70 launches over the next 15 or so years.

However, there is one unresolved problem in the form of a previous stockholder in Sea Launch, which was Boeing. Boeing won a judgement in a California court which awarded it $320 million against Energia. Reports suggest that Energia is looking to achieve a settlement in the case.

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