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Game Changing Development

Soldier/Warfighter Operationally Responsive Deployer for Space (SWORDS)

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Soldier/Warfighter Operationally Responsive Deployer for Space

The SWORDS launcher is a cooperative project between Office of the  Secretary of Defense, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/ Army Forces Strategic Command and NASA. The transition manager for the Joint Capability Technology Demonstration is the U.S. Army's Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space. The demonstration will consist of ground engine testing, a suborbital flight test, and an orbital flight test. A dedicated nanosatellite launcher will extend the miniature electronics revolution into space by enabling combatant commands to have a launch-on-demand capability.   

SWORDS will place nanosatellites into precise low earth orbits to provide capabilities both where and when they are needed. Nanosatellites will no longer have to wait months or years for piggyback rides subject to the schedule and orbital locations of other payloads. SWORDS will allow the affordable maintenance of constellations of nanosatellites in low earth orbit to provide communications and other services at an unprecedented low level of mission command, regardless of where American forces are deployed. The SWORDS launch vehicle can be transported by C-17 aircraft, and is designed to launch out of multiple ranges, including austere ranges with as little infrastructure as a simple concrete pad.   The focus of the SWORDS dedicated nanosatellite launch vehicle is on low cost rather than high performance. Ultra low cost is achieved by careful selection and judicious application of commercial-grade materials and components, as opposed to traditional aerospace-grade components. SWORDS uses a pressure-fed propellant system, eliminating the need for a turbopump. Thrust magnitude steering is used vice engine gimbals. Commercial-off-the-shelf electronic components are used for avionics. Safe, widely available, and inexpensive fuel and oxidizer is used. Range costs are minimized using a "ship and shoot" concept that inherently reduces the amount of time spent on the range. The innovation of SWORDS is in the systems engineering and integration of current technologies to achieve low cost, low part count and high operational readiness.

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