Swarm was taken into orbit on 22 November 2013 on a Rockot launcher from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia.
The Rockot launcher is a converted SS-19 intercontinental ballistic missile, which was designed as a weapon of war during the early 1970s.
Around 150 of the SS-19 missiles were declared as excess in military terms by the Strategic Talks on Arms Reduction Treaty agreements signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1990 and 1991, but were permitted to be reused as civil launchers.
The adaptation of the SS-19 uses the original two lower liquid propellant stages of the ICBM in conjunction with a modern upper stage for commercial payloads called Breeze-KM – optimised for delivering up to 1950 kg into low Earth orbit.
The three Swarm satellites were placed on the Breeze-KM upper stage with a tailor-made dispenser for simultaneous separation.
Plesetsk is located at 63° latitude and 40° longitude, about 800 km northeast of Moscow and 200 km south of the city of Archangel. Plesetsk is Europe's only continental launch site and ideally suited to high inclination and sun-synchronous launches into low earth orbits.