Soldier Warfighter Operationally Responsive Deployer for Space – SWORDS


SWORDS is a joint DOD/NASA project to develop and demonstrate a very low-cost expendable nano-launch vehicle for on-call delivery of miniaturized satellites to Earth orbit.

Rapid advances in technology miniaturization are opening up opportunities for the design of highly capable satellites with greatly reduced size, weight, and cost. However, available space launch systems are oversized for the need and there is no cost effective orbital delivery method capable of utilizing these opportunities and satisfying the rapidly expanding market demand.

Miniaturized satellites can potentially satisfy multiple defense, civil, and science needs at greatly reduced costs, but a compatible nano-launcher is required for maximum cost effectiveness.

SWORDS has broad base support across the aerospace community as a means of addressing compelling national security interests and enabling a new generation of civil space infrastructure and revolutionary space science platforms.

SWORDS will provide improved access to space for scientist/universities in a cost efficient and timely manner utilizing small scientific payloads, e.g. cubesats. The project will get NASA a foothold in the smaller launcher arena and get young engineers hands-on experience with flight hardware.

Principal Technologist: Ron Litchford (

Project Manager: Benny Davis (