S7 Airlines, the Russian airline company, has signed an agreement with RSC Energia for the main assets of the Sea Launch business, including the two launch vessels, at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara.
The deal, signed on 27 September, is valued at US$150 million. It is subject to approval from parties in several countries, primarily Russia and the United States. It is expected to take around six months to obtain the approvals.
S7 predicts that the Sea Launch equipment has 15 years of useable, and plans to carryout up to 70 launches. The company believes it will be able to begin launches near the end of 2018, or 18 months after receiving approval for the deal. It is expected that Sea Launch operations will still be carried out from Long Beach, California, and utilise the Ukrainian Zenit-3SL launch vehicle.
The elephant in the room was whether the deal would be able to proceed while RCS Energia was entangled in a related lawsuit with Boeing, one of the original Sea Launch owners. Boeing has won a lawsuit against Energia in California District Court, but, it is believed that Energia is contesting the settlement.
Update: In an interview on 30 September, between Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and the Head of Roscosmos, Igor Komarov, the Roscosmos Head speaks of the deal between S7 Airlines and RSC Energia. He states that Roscosmos and Energia have made a deal to provide Roscosmos regulation for the Boeing issues, especially regarding the lawsuit. The deal seems to ensure that neither Energia or Roscosmos will end up out of pocket as a result of the lawsuit, with any “investments” being paid back by any future profits resulting from a future joint venture. Mr Komarov states that he believes the Boeing issue will be resolved by the end of the year.