Paul Nandra, Xavier Barcons and Didier Barret for the former Athena Study Team

Following the decision of ESA earlier this year to select the JUICE mission for launch in 2022, the Athena team has been preparing for the next opportunity to realize a large X-ray observatory within Europe. ESA and its member states have committed to continued support for enabling technologies towards a future large X-ray observatory. More specifically ESA will fund the development of the Silicon Pore Optics towards the goal of achieving an angular resolution of 5" or better, and a complete cryogenic chain to be later integrated with a focal plane assembly of a cryogenic X-ray calorimeter instrument. A community team has been appointed by ESA to provide input into these technical activities. While a detailed plan is still pending, it is anticipated that ESA will initiate a process to select its two future flagship (large-class) missions in 2013, with expected launch dates around 2028 and 2035. Athena or its successor will undoubtedly be a major contender for these launch opportunities. We plan to organise an open workshop in early 2013 to discuss the approach of the community towards the ESA selection process.

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