Asset Publisher

Pre-announcement of the issue of a joint call for missions from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the European Space Agency (ESA)

Pre-announcement of the issue of a joint call for missions from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the European Space Agency (ESA)

28 November 2014

The European Space Agency's (ESA) Directorate of Science and Robotic Exploration (ESA-SRE) and the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) intend to issue in January 2015 a Call for Missions for the selection of a scientific mission to be jointly implemented by the ESA Science Programme and the Chinese National Space Science Centre (NSSC) under the CAS.

Contents of this page

Purpose and goals
Outline of proposals
Selection of proposals
Information about the boundary conditions for the missions
Preliminary timeline and deadlines


Purpose and Goals

The goal of the planned Call is to define a joint scientific space mission to be implemented as a cooperation between the European and Chinese scientific communities. The resulting mission will follow a collaborative approach through all the phases: study, definition, implementation, operations and scientific exploitation. To promote the interaction between Chinese and European scientists, two workshops were held, in Chengdu and Copenhagen, in February and September 2014. During the workshops, European and Chinese scientists presented a number of ideas for possible missions in cooperation, and the agencies presented the likely boundary conditions such missions would have to satisfy.

Following on from the workshops, ESA and CAS are now planning to proceed with the issue of a joint call. To qualify for such a Call, proposals will have to satisfy a number of criteria (to be further refined by the time of the Call). These include:

  • Proposals will have to be co-signed by two Co-PIs, one affiliated with an ESA Member State institution, the other with a Chinese institution;
  • Proposals will have to explicitly demonstrate compliance with the technical and programmatic boundary conditions defined by ESA and NSSC (detailed definition of these profiles will be part of the proposal information package; preliminary, non-committing information can be found below);
  • Data policy will have to comply with ESA and NSSC rules;
  • All stages of the mission’s scientific preparation and exploitation will have to be carried out by joint teams. Data rights will have to be in all cases shared;
  • Payload will be jointly provided.

The deadline for the submission of proposals in response to the call is planned to be in mid-March 2015.

Outline of Proposals

Proposals will have to include the following information:

  • Science objectives
  • Suggested payload
  • Mission concept
  • Cooperation plan
  • Heritage from previous studies/missions
  • Foreseen scientific output

A proposal outline will be provided to scientists with the Call.

Selection of Proposals

Submitted proposals will be first screened for technical and programmatic feasibility by ESA and CAS. Proposals that pass the feasibility screening will undergo a scientific peer review, carried out by a joint, co-chaired team of European-affiliated and Chinese-affiliated scientists. The peer review will advise ESA and CAS who will take the final decision about which proposal or proposals to select for a study phase.

Information about the Boundary Conditions for the Missions

To ensure that the Call will result in feasible, cost-constrained mission concepts that can be implemented within the pre-defined programmatic constraints, detailed information about the missions' boundary conditions will be provided at the time of the Call.

The size of the contribution from ESA is envisaged to be comparable to that of a "Small Mission" in the ESA Science Programme, with a comparably sized contribution from the CAS.

As is usual for ESA science missions, the ESA Member States are assumed to provide (part of) the European contribution to the payload elements. Letters of endorsement from the national funding agencies will be required with the proposal.

The mission's science objectives could be in astronomy, solar system science or fundamental physics, with no a priori restriction on the science areas covered, with the exception of missions to the Moon and Mars, which are, for both Agencies, covered under different programmes.

For planning purposes a launch in 2021 is envisaged.

The Call, once issued, will only solicit proposals that can be implemented within the constraints of the joint mission profiles defined by ESA and NSSC. Compliance with the constraints deriving from the joint mission profiles will be strictly enforced during the evaluation of the proposals.

It is foreseen that the boundary conditions for the Call will be (subject to possible evolution – final boundary conditions will be included in the Call):

  • Spacecraft launch mass < 300 kg;
  • Payload mass < 60 kg;
  • Payload power < 65 W;
  • Payload technology readiness: TRL ≥ 6 (ISO scale) for all payload elements;
  • latform technology readiness: TRL ≥ 7 (ISO scale) for platform equipment;
  • Development schedule: < 4 years;
  • Lifetime in orbit: 2-3 years;
  • Potential launchers:
    • From Kourou: on Soyuz as a passenger; on VEGA as a passenger or shared launch;
    • From China: on a Long March 2C or 2D possibly as a passenger;
  • Orbit: No a priori limitation, as long as it is compatible with the launchers and schedule constraints;
  • Additional requirements: Compatibility with the applicable debris regulations; the space segment will have to be free from ITAR restrictions.


Pre-announcement Late November 2014
Issue of the joint Call for Missions Mid-January 2015
Deadline for the submission of proposals in response to the Call Mid-March 2015
Indicative dates for following steps
Scientific peer review April 2015
Selection of proposal(s) for study Late 2015
Study phase 2 years
Implementation phase 4 years
Launch 2021


Interested scientists can contact Luigi Colangeli ( and Lilin Sun ( for further information.

Last Update: 1 September 2019
20-Apr-2024 11:24 UT

ShortUrl Portlet

Shortcut URL

Images And Videos

Related Publications

Related Links